Wednesday 28 June 2017

Dentist who opened nurse's tunic fined for sexual assault

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A DENTIST was yesterday convicted of sexually assaulting his young trainee nurse after opening all the buttons on her tunic, exposing her bra.

John Tait (57) was convicted of making the assault in his dental practice on June 16, 2008.

Tait, of Upper Rochestown, Cork, had claimed he was merely trying to check the buttons on the woman's new tunic to ensure they did not fall off.

He said that he had been shocked to discover that she was not wearing a T-shirt underneath.

In Cork District Court, Judge Tim Lucey fined Tait -- a father of three and a dentist for more than 30 years -- a total of €1,000 following the four-day trial.

Tait is now expected to face a civil action by the trainee nurse.

Her solicitor told the court yesterday the incident had been very traumatic for her.

"She found the matter very upsetting -- it put a stop on her life," he said.

The woman said she had felt both shocked and violated by the incident.

The dentist now also faces the prospect of possible action by the professional body he is answerable to.

Judge Lucey convicted Tait on a single count of sexual assault while dismissing two other sexual assault charges against him.

Those two charges involved a claim that the dentist put two of his fingers on the woman's sternum, between her breasts, while claiming to check the alignment of her teeth and that, on a second occasion, he photographed a tattoo on her lower abdomen with a micro-camera which he then put inside her pants.

Both these charges were dismissed.

But Judge Lucey said he was satisfied that, in relation to opening the buttons on the woman's tunic, the defendant had been guilty of a sexual assault.

The incident occurred on June 16, 2008 after the woman claimed she had been asked by Tait to go into the practice early one morning.

She had bought a new uniform tunic which the defendant then inspected.

Denied

Tait insisted that he had no sexual motivation in the act.

He also vehemently denied that he had engaged in sexual assault.

However, he acknowledged to the court that his action had been both inappropriate and imprudent.

Yesterday, Judge Lucey said he was satisfied that an assault had in fact taken place.

"The defendant opened all five buttons on the lady's tunic and put his biro in her pocket in her breast area," Judge Lucey said.

"Having opened the first two buttons, he then proceeded and opened the last three buttons until the tunic was fully opened," he added.

The young woman had told the trial she asked the dentist to stop after he opened the first two buttons, but that he had continued regardless.

She had been very upset by the incident and was crying in the dental surgery later that day.

The woman left her job after working there for less than two months.

Judge Lucey said: "I can only conclude that this was indecent. This allegation is proven against the defendant."

The judge said that, having heard all the evidence, he considered the assault to be at the minor end of the scale.

Defence solicitor Frank Buttimer applied for the matter to be dealt with under the Probation Act.

He argued that his client had approached the case in a very candid, frank and co-operative manner.

"He is an honest and credible person. It has been a dreadful ordeal for my client," he said.

Mr Buttimer also said that his client was a man of "unblemished good character".

He pointed out that a conviction "may have consequences far beyond the recording of the conviction", adding that this was "plainly obvious".

Garda Inspector Mary King confirmed that Tait had no previous convictions.

However, Judge Lucey said he would not apply the Probation Act.

He convicted Tait on the single count of sexual assault.

He fined him €1,000 and allowed him two months to pay.

Irish Independent

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