Disgraced doctor has licence cancelled

A Christchurch doctor and former Dunedin resident has had his licence to practice cancelled following his conviction on sex charges involving several male patients.

Rakesh Chawdhry (63), who migrated to Dunedin in 2003, was convicted in the Christchurch District Court in January 2018 of 11 charges of indecent assault and one charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

The offences were committed in Amberley and Riccarton from 2011-15, and resulted in Chawdhry being jailed for four years and four months.

Following his conviction two further complainants came forward and Chawdhry entered guilty pleas to two further indecent assault charges and received an additional two months’ imprisonment.

In September 2019 the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal considered Chawdhry’s case, and yesterday it formally censured the doctor, cancelled his registration and ordered him to take a sexual misconduct assessment test if he wished to apply to practise again.

Chawdhry was also ordered to pay 30% of the total costs of the case, $10,556.

Chawdhry’s offending was a gross breach of trust and disgraceful conduct by the practitioner, the tribunal said.

Each of the patients was given an intimate examination of their genitals by Chawdhry.

At trial he unsuccessfully argued he was using a legitimate medical technique and the tribunal also rejected that claim, saying the doctor’s actions were not clinically justifiable.

"This offending is extremely serious and the factual background is of considerable concern to the tribunal ... It is well established that the council has a zero-tolerance position on doctors who breach sexual boundaries with a patient."

Chawdhry had said his actions were not sexually motivated, but the tribunal said that was irrelevant as there was no medical need for the patients to be treated the way they were.

"These convictions and the nature of the offending undoubtedly reflect adversely on Dr Chawdhry’s fitness to practise as a medical practitioner.

"These offences were gross breaches of trust and were repeated with Dr Chawdhry’s patients over a sustained period of offending."

The tribunal was offered an apology by him for not maintaining the standards expected of its members.

The tribunal acknowledged Chawdhry now accepted his behaviour was wrong, but it had been so serious anything other than cancellation of his registration would not sufficiently address public safety concerns.

 - staff reporter

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