Bedford doctor groped women during health checks

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A GP groped female patients like a teenage boy “grabbing his first pair of boobs”, a court has heard.

An ambulance recruit claimed that during a medical assessment for the job Dr Robert Lewis ‘grabbed’ her breasts like a 14-year-old.

The woman who said she was anxious about having the medical, said she thought his behaviour was ‘odd’, but had not known what to expect at the occupational health appointment.

And she went on to allege that he then looked down her knickers and asked her to cough, and she assumed he was looking for signs of a hernia.

The woman was giving evidence to the jury at Luton Crown Court where Lewis, 51, is standing trial.

Lewis of Northbridge Street, Shefford, denies 5 charges of indecent assault and 3 charges of sexual assault, involving 6 women between 1999 and 2007.

Prosecutor Mark Fenhalls QC alleged the offences took place at the Larksfield Surgery in Stotfold, near Hitchin.

He said Dr Lewis was conducting occupational health examinations for women applying to join the ambulance and fire service.

He said: “The assaults were subtle and carefully designed to avoid detection. He was taking advantage of young women who were desperate to pass medicals.

“During some medical examinations, he used the pretext of breast and hernia checks to carry out assaults.” Mr Fenhalls added: “He fondled and groped their breasts and sometimes put his hands in the area of their vaginas.”

Opening the case, Mr Fenhalls told the jury of nine men and three women, that in November last year a jury had acquitted the doctor of many other allegations, could not decide on some and had found him guilty of a few.

He said this trial involved some of the allegations from the previous case, but also new complainants who had come forward since then.

On Tuesday the jury watched a video of the young woman giving her account of the alleged assaults.

She was interviewed in 2015, recalling events in 2001. She said she longed to join the ambulance service but was anxious about the medical as she had suffered from back injuries while working as a carer.

The woman said: “I was very nervous. I remember standing in front of him in my bra when he grabbed my breasts. It was a bit like a 14-year-old grabbing his first pair of boobs.”

She said he just cupped them for a few seconds.

“It was definitely not an examination,” she claimed.

Then she had to lay on a couch and she said he felt her stomach and then lifted the band on her knickers.

“He did not indicate that he was going to do that. He did not touch anything just asked me to cough, again it was only a few seconds. I thought he was looking for a hernia.

“ I thought it was really strange that he did not look at my back or even ask me about it.

“I asked him if I had passed and he said I had.”

Another patient claimed Dr Lewis got her to bend over while pulled out a tape measure and touched her bottom, the court heard.

The last allegations relate to August 2007 when the doctor is alleged to have behaved inappropriately during a breast and hernia examination

When questioned by the police in January 2013, the doctor denied indecently assaulting any patients.

He told police he always explained what he was doing to the patient and would get their consent.

The case continues.