Eight charges remain against Rockhampton plastic surgeon
A ROCKHAMPTON plastic surgeon defending himself against 25 sexual and common assault charges has been found not guilty of 17 of those counts following a 10 day trial.
Dr Elamurugan Arumugam, 55, had pleaded not guilty in Rockhampton District Court to the 25 charges in relation to allegations from seven female patients.
Patients' allegations ranged from inappropriate touching of their breasts to Dr Arumugam - known as Dr Aru by colleagues and patients - sticking his fingers in their mouths during consultations.
The jury returned 17 not guilty verdicts just after lunch yesterday and were ordered by Judge Michael Burnett to continue deliberating on the remaining eight.
However, the jury had reached a stalemate by 4pm and Judge Burnett dismissed them from their duty.
The jury had deliberated for 11.5 hours.
Of the not guilty verdicts - one verdict was unanimous and the others were a majority verdict.
"This was a difficult case," Judge Burnett said.
Most of the not guilty verdicts were in relation to the fingers in the mouth allegations made by five of the seven women, which had sexual assault charges and alternative charges of common assault.
One of the not guilty verdicts was in relation to the woman who was examined post liposuction surgery.
The remaining eight charges are in relation to five of the seven women's complaints.
One charge is in relation to a 46-year-old woman who was examined by Dr Aru for skin cancers and he allegedly placed a hand on one of her breasts while turning her and taking photographs.
Another charge is for a woman who testified that her grandson was in the room when Dr Aru used his headlamp to distract the child and slip his hand under the patient's bra and touch her nipple.
An expert witness, the immediate past president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr James Savundra, told the court the standard practice for breast examinations was a visual exam first while the patient was bra-less and then palpate areas of concern.
Dr Aru told the court he also carried out breast augmentations, breast reductions and breast reconstructions. He also said he had treated about 2000 patients with 70 per cent suffering from skin cancers and 30 per cent seeing him for breast surgeries.
Dr Aru continued to deny the allegations made by the seven patients involved in the trial before the court as Crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence cross-examined him.
The remaining matters have been adjourned until January 23 for mention.