A dentist accused of sexually assaulting over a dozen women in his cabinet has been found guilty but was handed a suspended sentence and may continue to practise.
Identified as 36-year-old W.D., the dentist appeared before a Bruges council chamber on Wednesday after at least 16 patients filed sexual complaint assaults against him.
An initial complaint in 2016 was followed by two more, with eventually nine women coming forward to denounce “inappropriate touching” during consultations with the dentist, leading to his arrest on charges of sexual assault.
Victims’ accounts show that the dentist touched his patients inappropriately, with one woman describing how he “rubbed her breasts and between her legs,” and others saying he “touched [them] in a strange way” while checking their teeth, according to HLN.
News of his arrest was followed by seven additional complaints filed by the dentist’s victims, bringing the total number of sexual assault complaints made against him to 16.
No ban on receiving female patients
The chamber ruled on Wednesday that the accusations made against the dentist were proven but decided to hand him a suspended sentence, dismissing a request by prosecutors to refer the man to a correctional court.
The chamber’s decision came after it established that the dentist had already paid compensation to the victims on his own initiative, Het Nieuwsblad reports.
The chamber’s ruling also allowed the dentist to continue operating his dental practice in the municipality of Damme, lifting a ban on his receiving female patients —imposed following his first arrest—, citing an expert’s assessment that the risk of recidivism was small.
A suspended sentence may be delivered by a court on the condition that the accused has not received a criminal sentence in the past and if “the facts do not appear to be of such a nature that they require more than 5 years of correctional imprisonment or a more severe sentence.”
The Brussels Times