Doctor guilty of sex abuse
A senior medical professional, who allegedly videoed himself having sex with a 24-year-old patient whose virginity he also took, has been found guilty of "multiple and severe" breaches of standards.
"Dr H" works in Australia and New Zealand. His name and most details, including his medical speciality, remain suppressed.
He paid "Ms A" $35,000 in a bid to get her to withdraw allegations.
The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal found that Dr H dealt with Ms A in a way that amounted to professional misconduct.
He had denied the charge.
"Taking the established particulars cumulatively, the tribunal determined there have been multiple and severe breaches of standards over a long period of time," the decision said.
It has called for submissions from parties on a penalty, costs and whether to continue name suppression. A further hearing will be held.
Dr H faced the tribunal in a five-day hearing in Auckland in September.
The particulars of the charge included that while he was caring for Ms A in 2008 he failed to set and maintain appropriate professional boundaries by allowing a friendship to develop and that he entered a sexual relationship with her.
He was also charged over his prescribing routine.
His payment of money to her was also included in the particulars and the tribunal found this established it in its entirety and said it "warrants discipline".
At September's hearing the independent director of proceedings, Aaron Martin, said Dr H began a sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient. He continued it after he had treated her, and they travelled to Australia together.
He carried out the relationship in "a clandestine manner" with regular sexual relations, wrote her intimate notes "and on one occasion took video footage of the two of them having sex," he said.
Martin said the patient "will find it difficult and stressful to give evidence, not only because of the video footage and the emotional subject matter, but also because she has a history of chronic and debilitating anxiety".
In February, 2009, Dr H's wife found out about the affair going on in Australia, he said.
The wife paid $900 for the woman to return home.
"While that payment was inappropriate professional behaviour, it is not as serious as the conduct which followed," Martin said.
The patient saw another medical professional who filed a complaint with the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC).
Martin said Dr H paid the woman $5000 and she emailed HDC to say she was emotionally attached "but that there had not been a sexual relationship".
In May 2009, he paid the woman another $15,000 and made two more payments totalling about $15,000 in February 2010, Martin said.
Dr H denied he was the man in the video.
"It is definitely not my body and parts of my body which are shown in it."
He accepted that he had failed to maintain professional boundaries by allowing the woman to enter a friendship with him and his wife.
"I emphatically deny engaging in any sexual relationship or misconduct with [Ms A] as she has alleged."
He said he was practising medicine in an Australian city and Ms A followed. He let her stay in his hospital apartment.
She tried to create a relationship with him but he said he and his wife were angry about it and tried to get her to move out. Ms A wanted to go back to New Zealand but had no money.
"Both my wife and I live by Buddhist principles of kindness, understanding and gentleness," he said, explaining why he gave Ms A $900.
Later she demanded $35,000.
"She said that I could not just reject her, that I owe her and that she could say anything," Dr H told the tribunal.
The woman had told him she had worked for a medical organisation and she "knew the ropes".
"She said she had read about compensation and that she had been in my accommodation and could say anything.
"She said 'everybody knows' and that I was 'dead meat' and that she knows things about me and I owe her.
"She concluded it with 'pay or you are history'."
He told the tribunal he was desperately concerned as he had a high-profile job.
"In summary, I panicked and considered the best way to resolve matters was simply pay her the money she was demanding ... In the end, I agreed to pay her to protect my reputation, family and livelihood," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News