Dentist cleared of patient sex assault
Father of three fined last year for similar complaint
A DENTIST was acquitted yesterday of sexually assaulting a young woman who claimed he opened buttons on her blouse during a dental examination and moved her breasts from side to side.
John Tait (58) was found not guilty by Cork District Court of sexually assaulting the woman in late 2005 at his dental practice in Douglas, Cork.
Mr Tait, of Upper Rochestown, Cork, had denied the charge.
Judge Leo Malone said he found it "extraordinary" that the complainant had not told anyone at the time she had been subjected to an alleged sexual assault.
The judge also said he found aspects of the matter "hard to believe".
While the alleged incident occurred around September 2005, gardai were not made aware of it for two-and-a-half years.
Last October, Mr Tait, in a separate and unrelated matter, was convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman after he had opened five buttons on her tunic, exposing her bra.
He was fined €1,000 following the four-day trial in relation to the previous incident, which had happened on June 16, 2008.
Yesterday's trial heard that the young woman -- who cannot be identified for legal reasons -- had told both a friend and a work colleague in 2005 that she was unhappy with "an inappropriate contact" from Mr Tait.
However, she did not describe the contact as a sexual assault and did not contact gardai.
In evidence, the woman insisted that she had not made more of the matter at the time because she was afraid of Mr Tait. She said she found the alleged incident very upsetting and was distraught by what happened.
The court was told that Mr Tait had asked to do a special dental examination on her which involved assessing her jaw and upper skeleton to see if they were in alignment.
The test involved a ruler being run from her nose past her jaw to her chest bone.
"He told me I had too much (clothes) on," she said.
The woman said she removed her sleeveless outer vest -- leaving her wearing a long-sleeved blouse with a T-shirt underneath.
"I undid the first button -- he undid the other two buttons. He put his hand on my chest bone and moved my breasts from side to side to get into my chest cavity," she said.
But the woman claimed that Mr Tait felt his examination was being hindered by her garments.
"He told me the underwire of my brassiere was getting in the way and would I consider taking the shirt off," she said.
The young woman immediately refused.
"He said something like you don't have anything that I haven't seen before. He called me something like 'a prude'. He did the exam, which lasted about five minutes or so," she added.
The young woman broke down when she later told a friend what had allegedly happened.
However, when Mr Tait was questioned by gardai at Togher garda station on December 17, 2008, he said he found the allegation to be "appalling" and to be totally unjustified.
"It did not happen -- I can honestly say I did not touch her in any way inappropriately," he insisted.
"I deny totally any sexual assault on (her)," he said.
"It is not an assault to do a measurement.
"I deny that I did that," added the dentist, who is a father of three.
Speaking after the verdict, defence solicitor Frank Buttimer said his client was very pleased with the verdict.
"He feels that his position has been vindicated by the decision of the court," Mr Buttimer said.
"The court took the view that there was little or no credibility attaching to the complaint of the complaining party and (he) is quite pleased with the outcome."