Cork dentist found guilty of sexual assault of dental nurse at surgery


A 60-YEAR-OLD dentist was yesterday convicted of sexually assaulting a young dental nurse just days after she started work at his surgery.

John Tait, of Glen House, Upper Rochestown, Cork, had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at his surgery at St Patrick’s Mills, in Douglas, on December 20th, 2006.

But yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, the jury of eight men and four women convicted Tait of sexual assault by an 11-1 majority, after spending over three hours and 20 minutes deliberating on the evidence.

Judge Raymond Fullam agreed to an application by defence counsel Tim O’Leary for an adjournment of sentencing and remanded Tait on bail to appear again in court next Friday when the case will be mentioned and a date fixed for sentence.

The woman told the court the incident happened when she was alone with Tait just three days after she had started working for him at his surgery in the southside suburb.

She said Tait had offered to examine her teeth after she told him that she had been suffering from headaches, in the belief that she might suffer from a condition known as temporal mandibular joint disorder.

She was wearing a dental nurse’s tunic, a thermal vest and her bra. Dr Tait asked her to remove her bra as he could not feel her sternum or breast bone, so she went into the bathroom and took off her bra. “At the start of the examination, he said he could not feel my sternum so he asked me if I could remove my bra so he could get a better feel of it – he said my sternum was very low,” the woman told the court.

She returned moments later and he stood her against the wall and asked her if she minded if he unzipped her tunic at the back as he wanted to check her neck and she consented and he began feeling her spine.

He fully unzipped her tunic and it fell down around her waist and after returning her to his chair, he got her to stand up again and without her permission, lifted her vest to her neck, exposing her breasts, she said.

“I was totally exposed – he was looking at my chest. I turned away. I was shocked because I was mortified,” said the woman, adding that the incident had lasted less than a minute before Tait told her to put on her clothes.

The woman said she had agreed to take off her bra for Tait to examine her because she trusted him but she was deeply upset at what had happened and, although she went to work the next day to get paid, she quit soon afterwards.

Tait said the incident never happened and that he had never asked the woman to remove her bra while checking the alignment of her jaw, neck and sternum.

“I reject any impropriety – it is not true and it did not happen. I didn’t ask her to do it and I don’t know why she said it,” he said.

Tait said he was shocked when he first learned of the complaint and said it had had a huge impact on his life.

“I was devastated – for myself and my wife and kids,” he said.