Indian-origin doctor in Oz jailed for six years for rape

A County Court jury found 37-year-old Arvind Sharma guilty last month of seven counts of rape and three counts of indecent assault over the incident which took place in December 2006, according to media reports here.

Sharma and his victim, who was 24-year-old then, were known to each other and previously had consensual sex.

The convictions do not relate to his work as a general physician (GP) in Bendigo.
The two were night-clubbing in Bendigo before returning to Sharma's house where the assault took place, the court heard.

Sharma took photographs of the victim during the rape. While jailing him for six years with minimum time to serve in prison being four years, judge Frank Shelton said the woman refused the doctor's advances while she was lying on his bed. But when he persisted 10 minutes later, she did not resist.

Sharma believed the woman to be drunk but she was only pretending in order for him to stop, the judge said.

During cross-examination, the woman said she was scared of Sharma but Shelton said that evidence was not particularly strong.

Judge Shelton said Sharma was of good character previously and had high standing in the Bendigo community.

He said Sharma's jail term would have an effect on Bendigo, given the documented difficulties in attracting GPs to country areas.

The judge said there were several character references including from patients of Sharma who said they were happy to continue being treated by him even after the charges were laid.

Several women cried, including Sharma's fiancee who is a pharmacist, as judge Shelton sentenced him.

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