Sex assault dentist appeals ban on practise

A dentist convicted of sexually assaulting a young dental nurse has appealed against the Dental Council’s decision that his name should be erased from the list of registered dentists.

John Tait was found guilty by a majority 11-1 jury verdict at Cork Circuit Court last May of sexually assaulting the 19-year-old nurse at his surgery at St Patrick’s Terrace, in Douglas, Cork, on Dec 20, 2006.

Tait, aged 61 and a father of three, with an address at Glen House, Upper Rochestown, had denied the charge.

In June, Judge Raymond Fullam imposed a 15-month jail sentence on Tait but suspended it in full on condition he be of good behaviour.

In October, the Dental Council decided Dr Tait’s name should be erased from the Register of Dentists, with the effect he would be unable to practise as a dentist. The council’s decision must be confirmed by the High Court before it can take effect.

In proceedings yesterday before the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, Dr Tait appealed against the council’s decision. Shane Murphy, for the council, opposed the appeal.

Paul Anthony McDermott, for Dr Tait, said the criminal proceedings had attracted a lot of media attention and both Dr Tait and his family had suffered as a result of his conviction.

Dr Tait had worked as a dentist since the 1980s without any other complaint, Mr McDermott said. He was a hard-working dentist who had engaged in research and evidence had been publicly tendered on his behalf at his trial by professional colleagues.

Following his conviction, Dr Tait had apologised to his victim for the distress caused to her, Mr McDermott said. The sentencing judge, while finding what Dr Tait had done was extremely serious, also said it was on the lower end of the scale of offences of this type.

Dr Tait continued to practise after his conviction and wishes to practise in the future, Mr McDermott said. The sentencing judge had had a mistaken view Dr Tait was to cease working as a dentist as his client had never said that.

Mr Justice Kearns said the issue of what was said at the sentencing hearing was important and he adjourned the hearing to today to allow the sides prepare a transcript of what was said.

During the criminal trial, the jury heard Dr Tait asked the woman to remove her bra so he could feel her sternum during a procedure to check alignment of her teeth and jaw. She removed her bra but left on a tunic and thermal vest. After asking if he could unzip her tunic, Dr Tait lifted her vest without permission and exposed her breasts.

In imposing sentence, Judge Fullam acknowledged that Dr Tait had no previous convictions and was unlikely to reoffend.


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