Indian origin doctor cleared of sexual assault charge

London: An Indian doctor has been cleared of the charges of sexually assaulting a female patient whom he tried to comfort by putting an arm around her shoulders.

The Jury at the Sheffield Crown Court yesterday took 30 minutes after three day trail to acquit Kaivalya Desai, 61 of charges levelled against him by the patient.

The woman in her early 20s was suffering from depression, problems in her relationship and finding it difficult to care for her two young children at the time, the court heard.

She was afraid that her partner was going to leave her.

She claimed that during a five-minute consultation, Desai had held her hand before stroking her arm in a sexual manner which made her feel "uncomfortable".

The woman claimed he had also brushed back her hair, asked her to "give me a hug" and squeezed her tightly.

Desai, who worked at Barnsley Hospital before becoming a general practitioner (GP), said after the hearing: "I am delighted with the verdict."

"In my 29 years of practice I have always sought to provide the best standard of care for my patients," Desai from Dodworth, near Barnsley, earlier told the court. He often held his patients to comfort them as part of his "in-house help and counselling".

He said: "If I feel the patient is crying a lot and is very stressed then, yes, I would hold their hand and help them."

"I feel it is a human thing. If someone is depressed or crying, a physical touch tells them they are not alone in the world", Desai said.

It was on that basis he held the woman's hand, gave her a tissue to wipe her eyes and put an arm around her shoulders.

According to a report in 'The Daily Telegraph', the woman ran from the health centre in tears and told her boyfriend, who called the police.

In a video interview shown to the jury, the woman admitted Desai held her hand, which he had done before, and she thought nothing of it.

But she claimed that he went on to squeeze her and when she tried to pull away, she could feel him pressing against her.

"He kissed me on the lips then pulled back and went quiet and let go of me," she claimed.

During cross-examination behind curtain in court, the woman admitted she was upset about personal problems at the time.

She told Gordon Bebb, QC, defending, that she had been sacked as a receptionist at a different practice in the same building in 2007 after she took a fortnight off work.

The woman said she had been worried that her partner was going to leave her and had told the doctor she was thinking about returning to live with her parents.