A DOCTOR has been cleared of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl at his surgery in Eagle Street, Accrington.
Dr Tanuku Venkata Suryanarayana, 56, walked free from Preston Crown Court on Wednesday afternoon after the jury returned a not guilty verdict.
At a previous hearing, a jury had found the doctor unfit to plead after considering reports from two psychiatrists.
But on this occasion the jury was told to decide simply whether he was guilty or not guilty.
Dr Suryanarayana, who had 2,000 patients, could return to work at the surgery next year after discussions with health bosses in the New Year.
The incident was alleged to have taken place on 6 February when the girl went to the surgery to see the doctor - her GP - with stomach pains.
During the two-and-a-half-day trial, Mike Lavery, prosecuting, told the court that on the day of the girl's visit to the surgery Dr Suryanarayana examined her breasts even though the pain was in her stomach area.
Mr Lavery said the doctor went on to give the girl an internal examination for three or four minutes. He then gave her a prescription.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury the examination made her feel "horrible".
"It is not a normal thing for a doctor to do," she said. "But since they are your doctor you are meant to be able to trust them."
Speaking in court, Mr Lavery said: "It was as though he was trying to arouse her in a sexual way. She didn't feel able to challenge it as he was her GP.
"She felt at the time that it was not a medical examination, she felt it was a sexual assault."
The court was told how the girl told her mother what was alleged to have happened.
A police investigation was launched and Dr Suryan-arayana was arrested.
The doctor was suspended from the surgery.
He was given permission to return to work in July if he stuck to certain conditions, though in the end he did not return because of ill health.
The jury was told there was a chaperone policy at the surgery where a doctor must have a female member of staff present if performing an intimate examination.
Dr Suryanarayana had used the policy in the past but did not do so on this occasion, the court heard.
After his arrest, a statement was read to police which, in effect, denied any wrong-doing.
No-one from the Eagle Street surgery was available for comment as the Observer went to press.
But a Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Primary Care Trust spokesman said: "We are pleased at the outcome.
"The PCT had previously taken the step of excluding Dr Suryanarayana from practice in accordance with guidelines. This measure did not imply any pre-judgement on the outcome of court proceedings.
"The PCT recognises that this was undoubtedly a sensitive situation and a difficult time for all concerned."