Dentist sentenced for sexual assault


A dentist has been given a 15-month suspended jail sentence for sexually assaulting a 19-year-old dental nurse at his surgery in Cork six years ago.

Father of three John Tait was found guilty last May of sexually assaulting the woman at his surgery at St Patrick's Terrace, in Douglas, Cork, on December 20th, 2006.

Tait (60), of Glen House, Upper Rochestown, Cork, had denied the charge.

The jury of eight men and four women convicted him by an 11-1 majority.

Today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Raymond Fullam imposed the 15-month sentence on Tait for the offence but suspended it on condition he be of good behaviour.

Judge Fullam said he was taking into account both aggravating and mitigating factors in imposing the sentence on Tait who has since ceased practising as a dentist.

Judge Fullam inquired of Tait's counsel, Tim O'Leary, whether an apology to the victim would be forthcoming from his client. Mr O'Leary consulted briefly with Tait who then took to the witness box to apologise to his victim for the distress that he had caused.

"I apologise unreservedly for any and all upset I caused her," said Tait, adding in reply to a question from Mr O'Leary that he accepted he was the cause of her upset.

Judge Fullam said that among the mitigating factors was the fact that the offence was at the lesser end of the scale of sexual assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

Also in his favour was the fact that he had no previous convictions and he was unlikely to reoffend, said Judge Fullam.

Among the aggravating factors were the fact that he abused his position of trust as her employer and that as man then in his 50s, he assaulted a vulnerable 19-year-old girl.

During the trial, the jury heard how Tait had asked the young woman to remove her bra so he could feel her sternum during a procedure to check the alignment of her teeth and jaw.

The young woman removed her bra but left on a tunic and a thermal vest and, after asking if he could unzip her tunic, Tait lifted her vest without permission and exposed her breasts.

In her victim impact statement, the young woman said she was shocked and horrified and she felt humiliated by what Tait had done to her.

Speaking after the trial, the woman said she was glad the jury had believed her and she felt vindicated. She urged any other victims of sexual assault in other situations to contact gardaí.