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'His hands moved slowly down the inside of my legs, my thighs, my groin' - tonsils patient yesterday; Doc denies sexual assaults.

TWO WOMEN told a jury yesterday how a doctor carried out intimate examinations on them when they went to hospital for tonsil operations.

They also said he asked if they were on the pill and questioned them about their menstrual cycles. Both women said they had not been sure what the pre-surgery procedures were and thought internal examination was part of the normal routine.

The 35-year-old Pakistani doctor, who the judge ruled must not be named to protect the identities of the patients, has pleaded not guilty in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of sexually assaulting the women on July 28, 1997. The alleged victims were aged 18 and 23 at the time.

The 23-year-old woman told Tom O'Connell BL, prosecuting, that she had been having problems with her tonsils for some years and was referred to the Mater Hospital by her GP.

On July 28, 1997 she was summoned to the hospital where she was to have the operation the next day. Members of her family accompanied her. She was admitted to a ward and given a cubicle with a curtain. A nurse checked her blood pressure and temperature.

Later, the accused, an anaesthetist, came to see her and pulled the curtain around the bed. He asked her about her menstrual cycle, whether she was on the pill and other questions relating to her family's medical history.

He also asked if she smoked, if she was asthmatic and how much she drank. When she told him she was not on the pill he looked at her in a strange way.

When she told him she had a boyfriend, "He told me he was in the country for about two weeks and he hadn't got a steady girlfriend."

She alleged he motioned to her to lie on the bed and to open the button of her trousers. He started feeling around her stomach and when he touched her side she jumped because it was tender from an old complaint.

"His hands moved slowly down the inside of my legs, my thighs, my groin area. Next thing, before I knew it, he had inserted his finger in my vagina. He did not have any gloves on," she told Mr O'Connell.

She went on to claim he touched her stomach again before putting his finger back inside her and moving it about.

The woman said his actions caused alarm as she knew it was not right. She pulled her legs together and he took his hand away. "I just kind of looked at him," she said.

He touched her stomach again and then moved up to the head of the bed, said something and kissed her on the lips. "I put up my hands and said 'No'," she said.

She alleged that he again touched her stomach and inserted his finger into her a third time. She straightened her legs and he asked her if there was a "problem".

She claimed he then pulled up her cardigan and used a stethoscope on her stomach. She could feel him touch the nipple of one of her breasts and he said: "You are a beautiful lady."

The woman said she was not sure of the exact details of the incident. "It's a bit fuzzy to me because at some stage I just switched off," she said.

During the 30 minutes or so she was with him he inserted his finger in her on about two or three other occasions, she said.

Afterwards, when she left the cubicle, her sister asked her what was wrong and she made allegations against the accused. She later spoke to two nurses and one said: "No, that should not have happened."

She said she was very upset and was crying. While in a smoking room she met the second alleged victim who told her the accused had done the same thing to her.

Cross-examined by Barry White SC (with Cormac Quinn BL), defending, the woman agreed she had a solicitor in court to keep a "watching brief" for a civil action.

She told Mr White she did not know what the accused's job was, or why he asked her about the contraceptive pill. When she said she was not on the pill, he looked at her in a "funny way".

Mr White suggested this look might have been out of amazement that she was not on the pill. The woman agreed she did not ask the accused if it was appropriate information to seek.

"I said I have a steady boyfriend because I was getting a strange vibe from him," she said.

She said she did not ask for a nurse because at that stage nothing had happened and she did not want to over-react.

"I did not fully know if it was the correct procedure or not. When you go to the doctor you trust the doctor," she said.

When asked why she had not called her sister who was outside, or call for a nurse, she replied: "Because there were a lot of emotions going through me at once."

Mr White said his client would give evidence that he put his finger in her only once. He would say he had been in the country a few months and that part of his job was chatting to put a patient at ease.

The accused would say he never kissed her, said she was beautiful, or said she had a "beautiful nipple". He said the people of Ireland were beautiful in answer to a question she put, said Mr White.

The second alleged victim told the court she had originally been scheduled to have the tonsil operation in September 1996 but it was cancelled because she was on the pill.

She said she had not been told she had to be off it for six weeks before the operation.

In November 1996 the operation was again cancelled because she had the flu.

On July 28, 1997 she returned for the operation and the accused inserted his finger in her vagina on two occasions. It really hurt her the second time and he also touched her breasts, she claimed.

Opening the case, Mr O'Connell BL told Judge Frank O'Donnell and the jury that the accused's role was to get a clinical history so that it could be decided what type of anaesthetic should be used.

The accused didn't have a nurse with him and didn't use gloves when he carried out the vaginal examinations.

A consultant would say there was no conceivable reason for this examination on patients who were to have tonsillectomies and even if there was a need for it, gloves should always be used.

When challenged about this point by Mater Hospital staff after complaints were lodged that night, the accused replied that gloves were never used in Pakistan and also that he was unaware it was part of the Mater's "protocol" to use gloves in vaginal examinations.

The hearing continues.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 1, 1998
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