29 November 2022

Trial begins of doctor accused of sexually assaulting nurse after work Christmas party

| Claire Fenwicke
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Coat of Arms on court building

The sexual assault trial began in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday 28 November. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses an alleged sexual assault

A doctor has been accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague with “his hands and his mouth” following a work Christmas party in 2019.

The jury trial of the accused, who cannot be named due to a suppression order, began in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (28 November).

He’s been charged with second degree sexual assault, two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, and two acts of indecency without consent over an alleged incident with the nurse at his apartment on 30 November 2019.

He is also fighting a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice stemming from an alleged incident earlier this year.

The original police interview with the complainant (who also cannot be named) was played to the jury, in which she claimed she had met the accused following a work Christmas party in the city.

She said her memory “starts to get a bit hazy” about two hours after the work party began, but that a smaller group of people headed to Hopscotch in Braddon after the main event.

She claimed at some point in the night the accused “grabbed me by the hand and led me outside”.

“He pushed me against a cab that was out the front … then opened the door and pushed me into it,” she alleged.

She told police she was “probably about an eight or nine” on the intoxication scale and was “sitting there, staring” in the taxi.

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She claimed when they arrived at the complainant’s apartment he pushed her onto a low “cube” shelving and tried to kiss her.

While she admitted she was “spacey and stumbly and very drunk” at the time and had parts of her timeline missing, she claimed the accused tried to give her oral sex while she was pushed against the cube, and he had allegedly removed her underwear.

“I just remember picking them up off the floor and trying to put them back on,” she told police.

She alleged the accused went into the bathroom and came back with an electric toothbrush, which she claimed he pressed against her clitoris and surrounding region.

“I was there, but it was so surreal, I sort of didn’t know what to do,” she alleged.

It’s then alleged the accused ushered the complainant into his bedroom, and tried to push her onto his bed, which allegedly resulted in a large bruise on her lower back.

The complainant claimed the accused then “continuously tried to go down on me” and allegedly pulled her dress down and grabbed her breasts.

“I kept closing my legs and rolling over … He got me down with my legs apart so many times,” she claimed.

“He was just constantly trying to [touch me] … lick and finger me at the same time.”

She said at one point the accused fell off the bed, and so she grabbed his face in her hands to “see if I could reason with him”.

“I grabbed his face and told him to stop … he just looked at me blankly and kept trying,” she alleged.

“[I said], ‘Stop, you’re married, stop’.”

The complainant tried to order an Uber on her phone, but it died. She said she asked the complainant if he had a charger, and he pointed to a cord.

During the alleged assault she said she managed to order a ride home, but when she went for the front door the accused “threw me into the wall”.

“The whole time I was yelling, ‘Let me go’,” she alleged.

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In his opening address, defence barrister James Maher said while it wasn’t disputed the pair had left Hopscotch together and went to his client’s apartment, what happened next was.

“[There were] some sexual activities engaged in but this was consensual,” he said.

He disputed the alleged incident with the electric toothbrush happened at all.

Mr Maher also said it was his submission the accused didn’t try to stop the complainant from leaving.

“There really are two sides to every story,” he said.

“I ask you to keep an open mind and consider the evidence you’re going to hear carefully.”

The case is being heard in front of Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

She reminded the jury not to undertake their own investigations, do their own research or discuss the case with other people outside the jury room.

The trial continues.

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The ACT ranks close to North Korea when it comes to suppression orders in legal matters.

Maybe Mr Rattenbury should focus on transparency of the legal system rather than nazi signs.

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