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Not Guilty of Sexual Touching Without Consent

CRIMINAL CASE

Our client is a 44-year old male doctor who resides in the northern suburbs of Sydney.

An allegation was made that he committed the offence of ‘sexual touching’ (previously known as ‘indecent assault’) against a 14-year old girl, who was a patient.

The basis of the allegation was that, during a consultation, our client inappropriately massaged and hugged the girl while having discussions of a sexual nature.

The girl reported the alleged conduct to her father, who then obtained our client’s telephone number and sent him text messages.

Our client returned the messages, saying he was sorry the girl was upset. He made no admissions to the alleged conduct.

The father then took his daughter to a police station to formally report his daughter’s allegations.

Police then contacted our client, who vehemently denied the allegations, asserting he did not inappropriately touch the girl. As to his text response to the father, he was adamant he was merely expressing that he was sorry a patient would be upset after a consultation.

Despite this, our client was arrested and charged with one count of engaging in sexual touching. He then contacted our office for a consultation.

During the appointment, our client informed us that the girl initiated a conversation regarding a disturbing sexual incident that occurred at her school, and that he was merely trying to console and provide her with support.

The case was later taken over from police by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

In court, our client formally entered a plea of not guilty.

‘Representations’ were sent to the DPP regarding our client’s position and requesting the withdrawal of the charges, but prosecutors decided to proceed regardless – without seeking an additional statement from the complainant as to the matters raised – and the case ultimately reached a defended hearing in the Local Court.

Given the complainant’s age and the nature of the allegations, the prosecution was permitted to use her recorded statement as ‘evidence in chief’ and she appeared via audio/visual link rather than inside the courtroom.

Under cross-examination, the girl admitted to the incident at school that she had described to our client as well as the fact she raised the incident during the consultation. As she was taken through her contact with our client, it became clear she fabricated the allegations of the ‘massage’, and she eventually admitted that she had made this up.

The girl also admitted that our client had been her doctor since she was very young. It became clear during her questioning that, in this context, the ‘hug’ was not inappropriate at all, let alone sexual.

The cross-examination made clear there was no prima facie case against our client (in other words, the evidence was not capable of establishing the offence) and the magistrate dismissed the charges.

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