'I'm glad I reported it and glad at the outcome - it was always about being believed'
THE WOMAN at the centre of the John Tait sexual assault trial spoke of her relief that the case was finally over and that a jury had believed her version of events – that she had been sexually assaulted by the middle-aged dentist.
“I’m glad that I did report it to the gardaí and I’m glad at the outcome – I was never in a court situation before so it was very scary but it was always about being believed – and I was,” said the woman who paid tribute to the Garda and victim support group Support After Crime.
Sally Hanlon, director of Support After Crime, praised the young woman for having the courage to report the incident to gardaí and said that the outcome should be an encouragement to anyone in a similar situation to do the same.
“We’re conscious of the effect this has had on our victim and on her family but also on John Tait’s family, who could also be considered victims, but none of us would be here today if John Tait had not behaved in an inappropriate way and sexually assaulted the victim.”
In the case the defendant claimed to be examining the young woman in respect of the alignment of her jaw and teeth for a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, which he said he had expertise in treating.
Yesterday’s sentencing marked the end of a long process for the woman who first made a complaint to gardaí about Tait on October 22nd, 2009.
This led to Tait being charged at Cork District Court on June 13th, 2010.
A trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in November 2011 resulted in the jury being discharged after they failed to reach a verdict on two counts of sexual assault.
A retrial in May 2012 on a single charge resulted in Tait being found guilty by an 11-1 majority verdict.
Tait had previously been convicted by Judge Tim Lucey at Cork District Court in October 2009 of sexually assaulting another trainee dental nurse at his surgery in 2008 but this was overturned on appeal by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Court in December 2010.
By this time he had been tried for a second time, in April 2010, charged with sexually assaulting another trainee dental nurse at his surgery at St Patrick’s Terrace in Douglas on a date unknown in 2005/2006 – and was found not guilty at Cork District Court.
Yesterday Tait’s counsel, Tim O’Leary, said that his client was no longer in practice.
Following Tait’s conviction in 2009, later overturned on appeal, the Irish Dental Council said the conviction of any dentist on a criminal charge was “of interest and concern” to it but said there was no provision under the Dentists Act 1985 to “automatically remove or suspend a dentist from the register as a result of a criminal conviction”.