A doctor who was accused of asking a 19-year-old man with Tourette Syndrome to take off his clothes before groping him was allowed to continue seeing patients for more than seven months after allegations arose.
Dr Andrew Churchyard, a senior neurologist for Cabrini Health and Monash Health in Melbourne, was accused of sexually assaulting university student Tom Monagle during two medical consultations in May 2015 and appeared to ejaculate during the latter appointment, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mr Monagle filed a complaint with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the police but the Medical Board of Australia ruled that Dr Churchyard could continue practicing if he was accompanied by a chaperone as the police investigation continued.
Cabrini Health allowed Mr Churchyard to continue to consult patients with a chaperone after the charges had been laid.
Monash Health immediately suspended Mr Churchyard.
‘We are brought up to trust our doctors 100 per cent, from the moment we see one, and that is why people get away with it,’ Mr Monagle told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Because the patients may be vulnerable, there is a massive amount of trust and a huge imbalance of power.’
After Mr Monagle’s complaint, more men came forward claiming Mr Churchyard had also sexually assaulted them, dating back to 2010.
It wasn’t until one of the victims accused of Mr Churchyard of touching him during a consultation with a chaperone in February 2016 that the Medical Board of Australia suspended his registration.
Mr Churchyard’s trial was set for February next year but committed suicide two weeks ago on July 18.
Former Victoria Health Commissioner Beth Wilson told the Sydney Morning Herald she had been concerned about Mr Churchyard’s behaviour.
Ms Wilson, who is also a member of the Cabrini Health patient care committee, said when she mentioned her concerns to a Cabrini clinician last year, she received ‘an icy silence.’
‘He then told me that the doctor was a good bloke and that his colleagues were rallying around him. He blamed the victim and then attacked the victim’s mother,’ Ms Wilson said.
Ms Wilson said she pushed for Mr Churchyard to be stopped from treating patients until the allegations were resolved to no avail.