GP cleared of sexually assaulting two female patients

Wednesday 09 July 2014 20.49
A jury at the Circuit Criminal Court unanimously found the doctor not guilty on both counts
A jury at the Circuit Criminal Court unanimously found the doctor not guilty on both counts

A doctor has been cleared of sexually assaulting two women   patients at a GP clinic in Dublin.

The 37-year-old had denied sexual assault by feeling the breasts of two patients during chest examinations with a stethoscope on 19 and 20 February 2013.

One of the complainants, a  23-year-old woman, attended the clinic with cold and 'flu symptoms.

She told the court that early in the consultation she began to feel uncomfortable with the conversation between her and the doctor.

She said that he ran his fingers gently up her arm while taking her blood pressure.

The woman said the doctor pulled her bra to one side, exposing her breast.

She said that while holding the stethoscope in the palm of his hand he brushed her nipple with his thumb in a gratuitous and sexually motivated way.

The second complainant, now aged 50, said she went to the clinic with concerns she might have asthma or bronchitis.

She said the doctor unzipped her hoodie-top in a "tentative movement" and she felt this was very strange.

She said she was lying down on the surgery bed and felt something hard pressing against her elbow.

She looked down and saw that his groin was pressed against her elbow.

"I felt that he might have been aroused but I couldn't be 100% certain," she said.

The witness said she moved her arm away and the examination continued.

She said she felt the accused was "much closer" that any other doctor had been during past examinations but that she decided to give him the "benefit of the doubt".

She said that while the doctor was using the stethoscope on the right hand side of her chest she felt a soft and repetitive movement over the nipple area of her left breast.

She said she put her hand down and found his hand cupped over her breast.

At this point she jumped up off the couch and shouted, "get off me, don't touch me".

She said she felt disgusted and violated and left the room in tears.

In the waiting area she shouted that he had touched her sexually.

The accused had denied the charges.

Defence counsel said the first complainant was stressed and had taken over-the-counter and prescription medication that could have caused hallucinations and nervousness.

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan had urged the jury to acquit, saying the second complainant was "acting strangely" as if she were investigating the doctor.

He said there was "something untoward about her and her involvement".

The prosecution said the contention by the defence that the second complaint was somehow a "copy cat" allegation simply did not fly as neither women knew each other nor knew of the other's complaint at the time.  

Mr Grehan told the jury that the charges were not like a sexual assault in a workplace where someone would have no cause to touch another person.

He said it was the doctor's job to carry out chest examinations and at all times he had a stethoscope in his hand.

He told the jury the behaviour of one of the victims may have been consistent with someone who believed they had been assaulted.

However he added: "but being assaulted and believing you were assaulted are two different things."

After almost seven hours of deliberation over two days a jury at the Circuit Criminal Court unanimously found him not guilty on both counts.