Family doctor in court charged with groping 25 woman and girls in Surrey
A GP groped a woman in an “immature Benny Hill” fashion and sexually assaulted a number of other patients under the guise of medical examinations, a court has heard.
Alan Tutin, 70, allegedly molested 25 females as young as nine years old for his own “sexual gratification” during his 24-year career at the Merrow Park Practice in Guildford, Surrey, the Old Bailey heard.
Tutin, now of Crittenden Road, near Tonbridge, Kent, faces 27 charges of indecent assault and one charge of assault by penetration on dates between 1981 and 2004.
Prosecutor Sally O’Neill QC told how Tutin touched a woman’s breasts with both hands, “fondling and squeezing them in what she described as a really immature Benny Hill way as though he was feeling a couple of melons”.
The woman, then in her 20s, said she felt “confused” and the GP gave no explanation why he was doing it, jurors heard.
Tutin also made a nine-year-old girl “cry out” in pain during an intimate examination, it was claimed.
Another complainant alleged Tutin told her to “get her kit off” and commented on the size of her breasts before groping her.
She was left feeling “dirty and violated”, jurors were told.
A young woman visited Tutin with a chest infection and something insignificant like a wart on her foot but ended up with breast examinations, the court heard.
A 17-year-old visited Tutin for the contraceptive pill but during an examination, Tutin allegedly “fondled” her breasts.
Tutin “almost smirked” after telling a young woman to take her top off so he could take her blood pressure, then groping her, the court heard.
At the time of the alleged offences there was a “general disinclination to complain or make a fuss” and a level of trust that “doctor knows best”, Ms O’Neill suggested.
She said: “The prosecution case, in brief, is that the defendant took advantage of his position as a doctor and a GP to sexually assault a large number of women.
“These allegations span almost the entirety of his time at Merrow Park and involved his female patients, the youngest being nine and the eldest in her forties.”
Allegations were also made by two female medical professionals who came into contact with Tutin through their work.
Ms O’Neill said: “The sexual assaults were typically committed under the guise of breast examinations or vaginal examinations, some of which were entirely unnecessary and were carried out for his sexual gratification and some of which may have been justified but which were carried out in a totally inappropriate way, again for his sexual gratification.”
Father-of-four Tutin joined the Guildford surgery in 1980 where his wife Angela was also a partner.
Having taken over as senior partner and running the financial side of the business, he “wielded a lot of influence”, Ms O’Neill said.
She told jurors: “Tutin appears to have had quite a dominant personality and perhaps a somewhat arrogant and brusque way of dealing with both patients and staff. He may also have been somewhat old-fashioned in his approach to patients and did not explain to them all the time what he was doing before he did it and why it was necessary.
“This trial is not about whether he fell below the standards required of him by his profession.
“It is about whether he used his position as a doctor to take advantage of often vulnerable patients to carry out unnecessary and inappropriate examinations of them for his own sexual gratification.
“He may have felt himself to be untouchable and unchallengeable at the time because of his position both in the practice and in society and, no doubt, you will want to bear in mind that things have changed over the years in relation to how a doctor should conduct himself towards a patient.”
The court heard there were criminal allegations of sexual abuse in 1999 resulting in two trials, none of which involved any of the complainants nor resulted in any “adverse findings”.
The General Medical Council also became involved and there was a Fitness to Practice hearing in 2001 which did include some of the women in this case, Ms O’Neill said.
Most of the alleged victims did not speak out at the time, although one woman did complain of sexual assault shortly after the day it was said to have happened in July 2003.
Police and GMC were alerted and although it did not result in a prosecution or disciplinary action, the defendant was sent a letter warning about the need to have a chaperone present during examinations of female patients, jurors heard.
The defendant stopped practising the following year, in November 2004.
The court heard how other women came forward and the defendant was arrested in January 2006.
There was no prosecution then but there was a GMC Fitness to Practice hearing in 2008 and 2009 at which some of the current complainants gave evidence.
The criminal investigation was re-opened in 2013 and letters were sent to thousands of former patients at the practice, the court heard.
Tutin has denied all the charges against him and the trial continues.
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