Dentist Faces Civil Action for Opening Nurse's Tunic; Trainee Nurse Who Lost Her Case on Appeal Now Plans to Sue Employer for Assault, Breach of Contract and Wrongful Dismissal

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Byline: Valerie Hanley

A DENTIST acquitted of sexual assault is to be sued in the civil courts by the nurse who made the allegations against him.

The case is being taken against Cork dentist John Tait, 58, by a trainee dental nurse whose bra was exposed after the married father of three opened buttons on her work tunic.

In civil proceedings, the burden of proof is less onerous than in a criminal case. These compensation cases are generally dealt with by the High Court in Dublin.

The young woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is planning to sue the dentist for assault, breach of contract and wrongful dismissal.

Mr Tait was acquitted by Cork Circuit Appeals Court of sexually assaulting the trainee nurse after another staff member who was in the surgery at the time of the alleged assault said she had not seen anything untoward. Mr Tait has run a dental surgery in the Cork suburb of Douglas for 30 years. In October 2009, he was convicted and fined [euro]1,000 at Cork District Court of sexually assaulting a trainee dental nurse while opening her tunic.

At the four-day trial, Mr Tait said he was checking the fabric and how well-sewn the buttons of the tunic were because buttons had fallen off another nurse's tunic.

While giving evidence during the appeal hearing, the dentist said he would have known the trainee nurse was only wearing underwear after opening just two of the five buttons of her tunic.

The trainee nurse, who was extremely distressed while giving evidence, told the appeal court: 'He put a pen into the pocket of the uniform. He opened the first two buttons and I said, "Stop, why are you doing this? …