A British court has awarded a 63-year-old doctor of Indian origin a four-year jail sentence for molesting, kissing and flirting with women patients over a 13-year period between September 1991 and December 2004.
Benjamin Deodhar, the India-born doctor who qualified in India, moved to Britain in 1973. He had been running the practice in Grimsby since 1990. His one-man practice had 2,900 patients. He began his sentence last week.
One of his patient-victims told the Sheffield Crown Court that he let "his fingers do the walking". He presented perfume to another patient and kissed her. Commenting on the figure of a patient and examining her intimately, he asked her: "Did you enjoy that?"
In all six women accused Deodhar of indecency. His behaviour finally stopped when one of the women complained to the police last October and the other patients came forward when it was reported he had been charged.
Deodhar denied eight charges of indecent assault against six women and one of sexually assaulting a patient by kissing her. But he was found guilty of indecently assaulting three of the women and of the sex assault.
Judge Simon Lawler told him: "It is sad indeed to see a man such as you in a criminal dock." Reports say that Deodhar was described as a "very good" doctor who had given many years of dedicated service.
Judge Lawler said: "On any view it is the gravest breach of the trust which should, indeed must, exist between doctor and patient...Each of these women have shown great fortitude and courage in coming forward." He added that the offences took place not just under the cloak of examinations but involved 'quite overt' sexual acts as well.
Deodhar was convicted of two charges of indecent assault against Mrs B, a 41-year-old mother of four who went to discuss an abortion. After carrying out an inappropriate examination he rubbed her breast. She said the doctor went looking for her at her home a few days later. She was so shocked at what happened in the surgery that she avoided him.
A 22-year-old mother of two was asked by Deodhar if she would be his girlfriend. He also offered to lend her cash and gave her perfume, which she threw away. When she became pregnant and visited the surgery again, he told her to stand up so he could give her a cuddle.
She said: "He came towards me, put both his arms around me and kissed my lips and tried to stick his tongue down my throat". She pushed him away.
Deodhar has already been suspended by the General Medical Council's interim orders panel until June, 2007. The doctor was also placed on the Sex Offenders' Register.
Prosecutor Caroline Wigin told the court that several of the women were "vulnerable" due to embarrassment over conditions that were being treated. None of them complained at the time because they were either too embarrassed or thought nobody would believe their word against that of a doctor, she said.
Andrew Hockton, defending lawyer, told the jury that the small, bespectacled doctor was "highly respected" in the profession. He said: "He's the sort of man who puts himself out for others."
He said all the intimate internal examinations were justified and that his client "completely refuted" the allegations.
Deodhar's wife sat in the public gallery throughout his trial.