Guilty of Assault: Psychiatrist Bruce James Spittle's Appeal Rejected

April 17, 2017

Psychiatrist Bruce James Spittle's 45-year career ended in 2015 when he was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault after a jury trial. The now 71-year-old was sentenced to seven months' home detention in the Dunedin District Court four months later. The Crown had called for a term of imprisonment.
The original complaint was made to police in 2012, about sexual abuse that took place in 1999, when Spittle was acting as the victim's psychiatrist. The woman, referred to in court documents as "W", was originally admitted to hospital after several suicide attempts.
Spittle would take her ice skating as part of her "multidisciplinary treatment plan", the court heard during the original trial. It was on one such occasion, between May and September 1999, that the first offence took place. Spittle parked in a side street and touched the victim's stomach, arm, breasts, groin and bottom.
The second charge related to the same period but when the woman had been transferred to another unit and out of the defendant's care. While visiting her, Spittle drew the curtains around her bed, slipped his hands under her sheets, placed one hand on a breast and the other on her groin. He admitted he had touched the woman during sessions with her and became over-interested in her case. While he admitted physical contact with the woman, he rejected the notion there was any sexual motive.
According to the Medical Council website, Spittle's practising certificate lapsed in March 2016.
Rob Kidd,"Doctor's appeal rejected," Otago Daily News, 17 April 2017,


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