A New South Wales doctor has been acquitted of scores of sexual assault charges relating to more than 40 patients.
Jeremy Michael Stafford Coleman, 64, was charged in 2015 with 66 sexual and indecent assault offences.
The District Court in Newcastle heard the offences had allegedly happened over more than 20 years up to 2013, at clinics in Newcastle and Kanwal on the NSW central coast.
Defence barrister Pauline David had argued all of Dr Coleman’s examinations were done for a medical purpose and not a sexual one.
On Monday a jury found Dr Coleman not guilty of 50 counts of sexual or indecent assault.
But the jury was deadlocked on the remaining 16 counts.
Marathon trial longest in Newcastle’s history
It was the longest-ever criminal trial in Newcastle, lasting just over a year.
Such is the timeframe that one juror was not pregnant at the start of the trial and has since given birth to a child.
Monday’s decision came after nine weeks of deliberations by jurors.
Outside court, Dr Coleman said he was thrilled after what had been a lengthy process.
“It has been very long, very arduous, but the result has been wonderful … it is a win for medicine,” he said.
Ms David thanked the jury and Dr Coleman’s supporters.
“Dr Coleman would also like to acknowledge the very hard work of the jury in this trial,” the defence barrister said.
“It has been over a year and they have been a committed and disciplined jury.”
Doctor thanks family and supporters
Ms David said her client had always maintained he was innocent.
“There have been no findings of guilt against him,” she said.
“He leaves this court as he walked in and that is an innocent man.
“He has said that every examination he has done is for a proper medical purpose, and that doctors commonly conduct these clinical examinations every day.”
Ms David said Dr Coleman would like to thank the people who had stood by him “through what has been quite an ordeal”.
“He thanks his family, his colleagues, the former patients, many former patients who have supported him,” she said.
Dr Coleman’s legal team indicated it would seek to recoup costs for his legal fees.
It also released a statement scathing of police and the media, saying he was not given the presumption of innocence, particularly when police called publicly on radio and Facebook for people to come forward and complain.
His lawyer said Dr Coleman’s biggest concern was that what happened to him could happen to any doctor doing his or her job thoroughly.