'Morally repugnant': Doctor stripped of licence after sexually violating patient

Open Justice,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Jun 2022, 9:02am
(Photo / 123RF)
(Photo / 123RF)

'Morally repugnant': Doctor stripped of licence after sexually violating patient

Open Justice,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Jun 2022, 9:02am

Warning: This story discusses sexual offending.

An Auckland doctor imprisoned after being found guilty of sexual violation has had his registration scrapped by the health sector's disciplinary body - which has labelled the doctor's offending as "repugnant".

Dr Kul Vant Singh was in 2019 found guilty of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection while working as a GP liaison for the Counties Manakau District Health Board and at his own practice, Eastside Family Doctors.

The charge stemmed from a 2017 police complaint from a 20-year-old female patient. The woman alleged unlawful conduct during a medical consultation with Singh, involving the touching of her genitals.

The doctor was charged by Police and found guilty during a jury trial in 2019, being sentenced to two years and 10 months' imprisonment.

During the judicial process, a complaint was laid by the same woman with the Health Practitioner's Disciplinary Tribunal.

According to the Tribunal's determination of the complaint, there were two aspects of alleged misconduct; the conviction in itself, and Singh's act of making retrospective amendments to clinical notes the same day he was made aware of the complaint against him.

Those changes were later described by a District Court judge as "fundamentally dishonest".

In considering the facts, the Tribunal was not required to consider the detail of the sexual violation complaint, as a conviction had already been handed down by a court.

Instead, the Tribunal was required to consider if the conduct met the threshold where it would bring the profession into disrepute.

"Registration as a health practitioner is a privilege. It carries with it obligations to comply with the standards expected of those who practise as registered health practitioners. There is no doubt that this offending must adversely reflect on the practitioner's fitness to practise," Tribunal chair Maria Dew QC said in her decision.

"It is conduct which clearly brings discredit to the profession."

While the doctor accepts he has been convicted, he continues to deny that he committed any offence, while simultaneously claiming the offending was not sexually motivated.

He has unsuccessfully challenged his conviction in both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and also failed in appealing against a decision denying him name suppression.

In convicting him, the District Court stated the offending was "at the lower end of the spectrum" and granted him a 25 per cent sentence discount to reflect what the court described as previous good character.

In its decision, the Tribunal established the charge laid against Singh. His registration as a practitioner was ordered to be cancelled, and he will not be permitted to reapply for registration for twelve months.

In the case of re-registration, he will be required to complete a Sexual Misconduct Assessment Test and inform any future employer of the conviction for the three years following re-registration.

He was also censured, and ordered to pay $11,000 - equivalent to 30 per cent of costs associated with the hearing.

"The tribunal is clear that this unlawful sexual offending by medical practitioners against any victim, especially those who are patients and/or vulnerable, must always be regarded as morally, ethically, and professionally repugnant."

Singh had previously been the owner of the Eastside Family Doctors in Pakuranga since 2003. It's understood he has since sold the business but is still listed as the director of a rental company registered at the address.

Property records show he continues to own the premises the practice occupies.

Sexual harm - Where to get help
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email [email protected]
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it's not your fault.

- Ethan Griffiths, Open Justice