Thursday 25 May 2017

Doctor avoids jail for kissing mother of patient

Clare O'Brien

A DOCTOR who tightly embraced and kissed the mother of his seven-year-old patient during an appointment has been given a suspended sentence for assault.

Audiologist and speech specialist, Dr Sree Raj (54) of Droim Liath, Tullamore, Co Offaly, denied assaulting mother-of-one Michelle Cuskelly when she brought her son to the health centre in Tullamore on March 18 last year for a hearing test.

Margaret Cuskelly encouraged her daughter to report the incident after her grandson told his grandfather about it. Her daughter wouldn't have told even her about the incident otherwise, she said.

Michelle Cuskelly told Tullamore District Court she was leaving the doctor's room when he put his arms around her. He tried to kiss her on the lips, but kissed her on the cheek and repeatedly asked her to kiss him. She said she refused.

She said he then returned to his desk and called out her mobile number. He told her the child would not have to return but he said he would phone her.

Scared

Ms Cuskelly said she had been scared. She also gave evidence of how, during the consultation, Raj asked her whether she had a boyfriend and if she wanted one. He denied this.

He admitted asking her son where his father was -- a question he said was part of building up a rapport with the boy.

Raj, a married father of two adult children, insisted there had been no inappropriate contact and that he "wouldn't do that kind of thing."

He said he had patted Ms Cuskelly on the back as she left and called her a good mother when she told her son he couldn't have a spinning top he was playing with but that she'd buy him one later. However, Judge Catherine Staines said she was struck by the consistency of Ms Cuskelly's evidence and was satisfied she was telling the truth.

She had no doubt that Raj, who came to Ireland in 2003, had assaulted the young woman in the context of a therapeutic and professional relationship.

The conviction would have serious consequences for him, she said, imposing a three-month sentence which she suspended for 12 months.

Irish Independent

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