Doctor struck off over assault

legal law case justice crime

A leading doctor who was jailed for drugging and assaulting a junior colleague has had his registration cancelled

The doctor, 67, who was a professor and a director of his specialty at a Sydney teaching hospital, had supervised the young female doctor in 2012.

Following this role, she became a registrar at another hospital but the two stayed in touch, having developed “a strong working relationship and a good friendship”.

He was her mentor and referee.

In 2013, he invited her to his unit on the pretext of discussing a mentoring program for registrars, a potential fellowship for her, and her forthcoming exams.

During the course of the evening, the doctor put a glass of benzodiazepine sedative drug Ativan in the woman’s glass of wine without her knowledge.

He then indecently assaulted her.

In the NSW District Court, the doctor pleaded guilty to using an intoxicating substance to commit an indictable offence and assault with an act of indecency.

He received an aggregate sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment, serving nine months before being released on parole.

In 2017 he was also found guilty of assaulting the daughter of a patient.

The 49-year-old woman had met the doctor after accompanying her father, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, to an appointment at a Sydney hospital in 2012.

Over the course of several meetings, the doctor told her he wanted to write a journal article about her father.

They arranged to meet at the hospital and went to his office to have lunch.

While in his office, the doctor indecently assaulted the woman while claiming to be conducting a breast examination.

He pleaded guilty to assault with an act of indecency and was sentenced to 340 hours of community service.

As a result of his convictions, the doctor lost his clinical directorship, associated academic position and professional contacts.

His medical registration was suspended.

Before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal this May, all parties agreed to an order for cancellation of his registration, with the doctor stating he does not intend to practice again.

He attributed his actions to stress, overwork and burnout, as well as social difficulties and inability to set boundaries.

The tribunal found that there had been “abuse of a professional colleague with whom he was in a relationship of trust and with a considerable power imbalance”.

It described the relationship with his colleague was “one of particular vulnerability” given he was her supervisor and was about to supervise her again.

Her potential fellowship also depended on his approval.

The offence involved administering an intoxicating drug to which the doctor had ready access as a specialist medical practitioner, found the tribunal.

Additionally, he had utilised his professional standing in the abuse of his patient’s daughter – an ordinary member of the public seeking help for a close relative.

“Each victim separately had trusted him to behave not just honourably but also honestly and without manipulating them in the situation he had arranged, if not manufactured, with each of them,” stated the tribunal in its reasons for cancellation.

“It is clear that each event had lasting psychological consequences on each victim.”

The doctor’s registration was cancelled and he was ordered to pay costs to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

He is unable to apply for re-registration for at least five years from 23 May 2019.

He is prohibited from providing any “health services” either in public or private.

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