Dentist Peter Agnew arrives at Brisbane Court in relation to sexual assault charges this morning. Picture: Sarah Marshall
Dentist Peter Agnew arrives at Brisbane Court in relation to sexual assault charges this morning. Picture: Sarah Marshall

Dental nurse drugged with laughing gas, raped

A DENTIST who drugged and raped a junior dental nurse told the woman he would “blacklist” her from ever working again if she told anyone about his abbhorent attack.

Retired dentist Peter James Agnew, 67, was found guilty of rape and indecent assault in Brisbane District Court this morning for the crimes he committed against a 19-year-old nurse at his Stafford clinic in 1980.

The woman, who only spoke of the attack for the first time in 2015, was in court to hear the verdict be handed down and said she was glad the “nightmare” was over.

During a three-day trial in June, the court heard that Agnew forced himself on her while she was closing up the Stafford practice.

He pushed her to the ground, pulled down her underwear and raped her as she cried and told him no, the court was told.

Afterwards, Agnew told her that if she said anything about it he would “blacklist” her.

She resigned the next day.

The court was told on an earlier date Agnew had assaulted the same woman in a dental chair after agreeing to give her a filling.

He gave her laughing gas until “she felt really dizzy, light-headed and disorientated” before he held her down and unzipped her pants.

He only stopped when the nurse’s friend, who was waiting for her outside, burst through the door.

During the six months she worked at the clinic, Agnew also showed the young employee porn and groped her as she was sterilizing equipment.

The court was told the woman only spoke about the rape for the first time in 2015 after confiding in a partner.

She went to confront Agnew at his clinic in 2016 while wearing a listening device.

He denied all of the allegations and later told police: “I don’t recollect her as an employee…or at all, to be honest”.

Judge Deborah Richards said despite the delay she found the woman’s evidence convincing.

“The delay in reporting is not unusual unfortunately in these cases,” Judge Richards said in her reasons.

“The complainant said she didn’t say anything as she was embarrassed, no one would have believed her, she was ashamed and it was disgusting.”

Agnew will be sentenced later this month.

Outside court the woman said it was “surreal” to finally see justice served.

“It’s been long and hard,” she said.

“In a workplace you expect that you can be protected. It’s such a violation of duty of care and it’s just been a nightmare, the whole thing.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes and people have to know they will be held accountable no matter how long ago it was.

Her sister who supported her in court said: “It’s over now”.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

Originally published as Dental nurse drugged with laughing gas, raped