FIVE women have accused an Alstonville based osteopath, Garth Duggan, of sexually assaulting them while they sought professional medical services at his health clinic.
Duggan, 29, appeared in Ballina Local Court yesterday charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault on November 3, last year, January 28 and February 16, this year; and two counts of aggravated indecent assault on October 27, 2005, and February 26, this year.
The police allegations put before magistrate Kim Pogson involve five different patients with four matters said to have taken place at Alstonville and one matter at Lismore.
Defence lawyer Ralph James made a successful application to reduce his client’s police reporting conditions to one day a week.
Mr James was unsuccessful in his application to have his client not publicly named by the media on the grounds it was ‘a very live issue’, although he acknowledged the defence view was very different to that of Police.
“I ask that the name (of the accused) not be published because it would lead to the identification of the complainants,” argued Mr James.
He made the application to be in place only until next Tuesday when the matter would be mentioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Lismore Local Court.
The police prosecutor opposed any suppression of Duggan’s name stating there were ‘no grounds’ and that the senior police officer in charge of the case had instructed that such publication would not identify the female complainants.
Mr Pogson ruled a non-publication order was in place on any material before the court that would identify the patients making the complaints.
He adjourned the matter to Lismore Local Court on Tuesday, April 20.
Speaking outside the court, investigating officer Detective Sergeant Ashley Bryant said the first complaint was made to police in early February with Duggan accused of carrying out the assault on a patient at his operating rooms in Alstonville.
Five separate complaints had now been made.
“The allegations are that these assaults occurred during treatment with one (allegation) going back to 2005,” Det Bryant said.
“Anyone with information on these matters should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or phone Ballina Police on 66818627.
Det Bryant said Duggan is believed to have been taken off the Australian Osteopathic Association register until the matters are resolved.