A Sydney dentist convicted of sexually touching his female patients has been spared time behind bars after a judge declared he would face a tough time in jail due to an “unrelenting itch” in his lower body.
Bassem Magdy El-Badrawy Fouad, 55, was sentenced on Friday after a jury found him guilty of indecently assaulting multiple patients during consultations following a trial in March.
Fouad has always maintained his innocence, saying that touching people was a necessary part of being a dentist and claiming two medical issues — deep vein thrombosis and a fungal infection — made him unconsciously touch himself to scratch his skin.
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He pleaded not guilty to nine counts of aggravated sexual touching, indecent assault under authority and intentionally sexually touching a child. All five complainants are women and girls.
In a letter to the court ahead of his sentencing, Fouad denied gaining sexual gratification from the acts but apologised to the victims for the pain caused by his “unintentional touches”.
“I understand and am now aware of how I affected (the victims) and that the behaviour was unacceptable and has significantly impacted on them,” he said.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and am committed to making amends.”
Bassem Magdy El-Badrawy Fouad (left) has been spared jail after he indecently assaulted patients. Credit: AAP
One of the dentist’s victims said she had battled mental illness ever since he sexually touched her as a 15-year-old patient, while another said a picture of Jesus on the clinic wall made her question as a Christian what was happening to her.
However, multiple former patients, colleagues and community members provided character statements in favour of Fouad.
Many described the dentist as a diligent and kind person who contributed to the community and said the offences were “completely uncharacteristic”.
A psychiatrist treating Fouad noted he had suffered from depression which would worsen if he received a custodial sentence and he would be at risk of self-harm or suicide.
She also noted his medical conditions, saying any break in his deep-vein thrombosis treatment would risk pulmonary emboli and death and that he would not be able to deal with incarceration.
Judge Phillip Mahony accepted the various opinions expressed that Fouad was of good character and found he was unlikely to reoffend.
“In the context of the offender’s background and life story, this offending is difficult to understand,” he told Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court.
“I take into account (Fouad’s) contribution to his community, not only as a provider of dental services, but also his support both physical and financial to various charitable causes.
“This is to be given significant weight in the sentencing process, together with the long history of medical ailments … affecting his legs and groin with an unrelenting itch.”
Fouad faced a maximum seven years in prison for the offences.
Instead, he will serve a community correction order for each count, lasting a maximum of three years.
Judge Mahony noted Fouad’s conviction and sentence meant he would be unable to re-register as a dentist, and he had been publicly shamed for his crimes.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
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