GP charged with sexual assault
Police will spend days tracking down female patients, including a teenager, who may have been unknowingly sexually assaulted by a regional Victorian doctor.
The 68-year-old GP allegedly took ‘intimate” images of more than a dozen women. He is charged with the sexual assault of one patient on whom he allegedly conducted a pelvic examination without gloves at Wangaratta’s Ely Street Clinic in October.
She raised the alarm after noticing camera equipment during the examination, and police subsequently found allegedly “inappropriate” images of up to 19 patients on electronic equipment seized from the doctor’s office and home.
“She’s been very brave, and she obviously knew that something was unusual and that something didn’t seem right and so she came to us,” Acting Superintendent Joy Arbuthnot told reporters on Tuesday.
The GP was on Monday charged with sexual assault and intimate image capture over the October consultation. He was suspended from practising in January.
The number of charges is expected to rise as the investigation continues and more women come forward, Supt Arbuthnot added.
“It has an incredibly detrimental impact on victims and they way they go about their life … and how they feel about going to a general practitioner,” she said.
The alleged victims, aged between 17 and 60, were identified following a forensic examination of the computer and camera equipment seized, with date and time stamps cross-checked against appointment records.
The unsuspecting patients can expect to be contacted throughout the week.
“It’s not every day that the police contact you and advise you that as a result of an attendance at a general practitioner, that you are potentially the victim of a sexual assault,” Supt Arbuthnot said.
“We understand that this will be very difficult for people.”
She could not say how many images investigators found or how far back they date.
But police stressed there was no evidence any other doctor or staff member at the Ely Street Clinic had been aware of or involved in the alleged incidents.
A doctor speaking on behalf of the practice said it was closed on Tuesday “in order to deal with the problem”.
“We do not have the complete details of this alleged offence and we are not in a position to discuss any aspects of this with anyone,” the clinic’s statement read.
The accused GP, who is not a member of the The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, has been bailed to appear at Wangaratta Magistrates Court on September 10