20 Mar 2017

Health professional on trial for indecent assault in hospital

6:39 pm on 20 March 2017

A health professional has gone on trial in the Wellington District Court accused of indecently assaulting a woman by kissing her on the cheek as he prepared her for a rectal examination.

Wellington District Court.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The woman who made the allegation told the jury today the man also sensually rubbed her feet and behaved in a "smarmy and lecherous" way.

The defendant's name and occupation are both suppressed.

Crown prosecutor Ian Auld said the complainant went for an examination in January 2015 and the defendant made inappropriate comments to her while she was in a waiting room and, later on, in the examination room.

He said at one stage the woman left her cubicle to speak to a support person, wearing her hospital gown, and the defendant asked her if she liked wandering around with no clothes on.

Mr Auld said the kiss on the cheek occurred shortly before the examination began.

"In law an assault just means intentional application of force to another person. The Crown says that was the kiss. You have to decide if she consented to the kiss."

However, the defence lawyer, Val Nisbet, said any comments that were made were not inappropriate, but merely an attempt by his client to try and make the patient feel more comfortable.

"You can imagine someone might pat another on the head or something like that if they're stressed. There will be physical contact, but none of it was inappropriate, I can say to you now."

He said his client also denied that any kissing took place or that he inappropriately touched the woman in any way.

The complainant told the court when she felt cold, and asked the defendant for a blanket, he said he did not have one but could jump into bed with her and warm her up.

As he positioned her on the bed for the examination, he went behind her and pulled the gown up to her waist so she was ready for the procedure, she said.

"He said, 'I've never seen a [ethnic reference] girl's bum before but now I have. Now I've seen it all.

"It sounded like an attempt at being sexy. [There was] a pervy tone to his voice. I said 'I think that's a bit inappropriate'."

The woman said the kiss occurred after that and the man told her she was "lovely" and that made her feel disgusted.

She said there were doctors in the room but her view of them was blocked by the medical equipment and she did not say anything to them.

"I was quite frightened and felt very vulnerable. Obviously it was not how you'd expect to be treated when you're going in for this procedure so I think I was quite overwhelmed and just froze."

The woman said she started to panic and became really overwhelmed and told the doctors she was in pain because she wanted to get out of the examination room.

She said one of the doctors said she was being squeamish, but eventually the procedure stopped and she was able to leave.

The trial is expected to run all week.