DOCTOR Jeremy Coleman – the Newcastle general physician, allergy and immunology specialist accused of indecently and sexually assaulting 46 female patients – has taken the stand in his marathon Newcastle District Court trial.
After six months of prosecution evidence; dozens of complainants alleging assaults over more than two decades and experts dissecting issues around “proper medical purpose”, Dr Coleman’s legal team began their defence on Monday.
The well-known Newcastle doctor, who has seen more than 40,000 patients and conducted more than 150,000 consultations during his career, has pleaded not guilty to more than 60 counts of sexual and indecent assault against 46 female patients between 1989 and 2013.
On Monday, the jury was provided a copy of Dr Coleman’s curriculum vitae and defence barrister Pauline David took the 64-year-old through his medical background; his training as a physician, early years in the field, initial interest in allergy and immunology, and, eventually, settling in his private practice in Watt Street, where much of the assaults are alleged to have occurred.
“There was a trend in the 1990s and the 2000s that if you didn’t know what it was then you would send it to the allergist,” Dr Coleman said.
“You know, maybe they are allergic to something.
“I saw a lot of patients who I'd call lost cases.”
During his opening address in late August, Crown prosecutor Paul Marr told the jury the complainants came to Dr Coleman’s practice complaining of allergies, rashes, sinusitis, hayfever, migraines and a myriad of other conditions.
“Many of these patients had already tried with their GPs remedies and medicines for the conditions that they had,” Mr Marr said.
“Many weren't getting resolution from the problems they were experiencing and some were at their wit’s end.”
But during their consultations, Dr Coleman would shift the conversation to sex, Mr Marr told the jury.
Were they sexually active? Were they using contraception? Did they have a low libido? Was their vagina dry?
“His interest was intentionally drawn to their fertility and genitalia or their sexual function as a guise, as a means, as a ruse to examine them internally,” Mr Marr said. Dr Coleman’s evidence is expected to last at least a week before he is cross-examined by Mr Marr.
It is expected that he will address specific allegations of sexual and indecent assault leveled at him by the 46 alleged victims.
During her opening address, Ms David said Dr Coleman disputes that any examination was done without a proper medical purpose.
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