GP ‘groped’ 999 service hopefuls

Court news. EMN-150910-150125001
Court news. EMN-150910-150125001

A GP behaved like ‘a 14-year-old boy’ during intimate examinations, a jury heard this week.

The examinations were given to 23 alleged victims as part of recruitment processes for ambulance and fire services in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Dr Robert Lewis was described by one alleged victim as ‘being like a 14-year-old boy grabbing his first pair of boobs’. The 50-year-old, who is a GP at the Larkfield Surgery at Stotfold, allegedly molested the women during medical examinations.

Dr Lewis, of Northbridge Street, Shefford pleads not guilty to 37 charges against 23 women. 36 are charges of indecent assault between 1999 and 2003. One is a charge of sexual assault in May 2009.

Prosecutor Mark Fenhalls QC told Luton Crown Court on Tuesday: “The women were not his full-time patients at his general practice.

“The assaults were subtle and carefully designed by the defendant to appear as part of the examinations.

“The defendant was taking advantage of young women who were desperate to pass the medical and give themselves the best possible chance of getting a job.

“He was a man who deliberately targeted those who had come to him and trusted him to perform a required medical and did so under the guise of his expertise.

“Dr Lewis used the pretext of breast examinations and hernia checks to provide cover for the assaults he committed.”

Mr Fenhalls told the jury that most of the offences are alleged to have taken place between 1999 and 2003. Some of them first came to light in 2002 when complaints were made and there was an enquiry by the General Medical Council.

One woman alleged he removed her bra without warning, was told to lower her jeans before he slid his hand in her underwear. He looked into her thong and asked her to cough. Then, dressed only in her thong, he asked her to bend over for 10 seconds while he said he was checking her ‘spinal alignment.’

After examining one woman’s chest with a stethoscope, the doctor allegedly told her he would show her how to examine her breasts. She is said to have described it as being ‘more like a grope.’

One woman alleged: “He said ‘I just need to check for a pubic hernia and put his hand in my knickers. The bra was removed to check for sites of potential cancers ... polishing headlights springs to mind rather than the normal breast exam. He massaged my breasts while I am lying flat on my back.”

One alleged victim said she felt very uncomfortable as he touched both her breasts at

the same time using both of his hands and he put his hand down into her pubic regions. “She said it made her feel very uncomfortable and sleazy,” said the prosecutor.

Another woman told the police she went for an examination with Dr Lewis. She was not wearing a top or bra. Mr Fenhalls said: “It wasn’t an examination, it was a two hand grab. He just cupped them. I just felt shocked. If he’s looking for lumps, I am pretty sure that’s not how you do it, but he is a doctor.”

When questioned by the police, Dr Lewis denied assaulting any patients.

The case is expected to last six weeks.