Cork dentist John Tait was convicted yesterday of sexually assaulting a dental nurse at his surgery in 2006, just days after she started working for him.
The jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court took about three and a half hours to return a majority 11-1 guilty verdict against Tait, aged 60, of Glen House, Upper Rochestown, Cork.
The victim was 20 at the time, while Tait was 55. The woman said he lifted her vest without asking and exposed her breasts for almost a minute during a dental examination.
The sexual assault occurred at 6 St Patrick’s Terrace, Douglas, Cork, on Dec 20, 2006, during a dental examination.
Yesterday, a jury of eight men and four women returned the majority verdict. They had begun their deliberations on Thursday afternoon, went home overnight and resumed yesterday.
Moments after Judge Raymond Fullam advised the jury that he no longer required a unanimous verdict and would accept a majority of 10-2 or 11-1, they returned with the decision.
Sentencing was adjourned until May 10. It may be further adjourned at that stage and a date fixed for a sentencing date. Tait was remanded on bail.
Only now that he has been convicted will a victim impact statement be prepared, in which the woman can express the effect that the sexual assault had on her.
The complainant testified during the trial that Tait had offered her free dental treatment shortly after she commenced work in the practice.
She said Tait asked her to remove her bra and she agreed to do so, in a bathroom, before returning for the dental examination. She said he later unzipped her tunic, which she allowed him to do, to examine her back.
But she said he never asked about lifting her vest and that he lifted it to expose her breasts for about a minute while carrying out the dental examination.
She said that later that night she felt like a fool for allowing it to happen.
Tait claimed the incident did not happen at all, that he never unzipped her tunic, never asked her to remove her bra in the bathroom and, most significantly in terms of the sexual assault, never lifted her vest to expose her breasts.
Tait described his reaction to the complaint during the trial: “First of all, I was devastated. Obviously for myself, my wife and kids. I realised the seriousness of it. It has been hard, a hard time. Just devastating to live with it for the last while, very hard on our family unit. I am incredulous about the whole thing.”
Michael Collins, prosecution barrister, said during his summing up of the case that it was the jury who should be incredulous about Tait’s denial.
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