Indian-origin physiotherapist spared jail over rape



Melbourne: In an unusual case, an Indian-origin physiotherapist found guilty of raping a woman patient last year was on Wednesday spared jail by an Australian court, with the judge citing his remorse.

Barath Devadas, 35, was found guilty of rape of the woman at a Woodville West physiotherapy clinic in Adelaide in January 2011.

South Australian District Court Judge Rauf Soulio today imposed a sentence of two years and six months, with a non-parole period of half that term and later suspended it with a two year good behaviour bond of USD 5000.

The judge suspended the sentencing and instead placed a two-year good behaviour bond.

During his trial, the man maintained his stand that he had the consent of the woman for his actions which he said were diagnostic or therapeutic. Soulio said the offending was a gross breach of trust.

"You initially claimed at trial that [the sexual act] was consented to for a diagnostic or therapeutic purpose. I did not accept that," he said adding "Later you conceded your actions were sexually motivated."

"He further noted that it was unusual to consider suspending a sentence for rape, but he accepted Devadas was remorseful and unlikely to reoffend." The judge also acknowledged that it was unusual to suspend a rape sentence and said Devadas had no previous convictions, was relatively young and had finally admitted responsibility and remorse.

The judge also noted that Devadas's wife had written a letter to the court, saying they saw each other about once a year and describing him as "sensitive and caring".

Devadas was married in India in 2004 and shortly after the birth of his child came to Australia alone to further his studies.

Devadas is currently on a bridging visa and had applied for residency. "By your actions you have destroyed those plans," Soulio said.

PTI