Doctor banned after sending sexually explicit texts and voicemails to patient

A doctor who sent sexually explicit text and voice messages to a patient, then threatened her partner after she complained about him, has been banned from practising medicine in Australia for 12 months.

The Medical Board took disciplinary action against Benjamin Saunders after they received a complaint that he had allegedly engaged in professional misconduct.

Dr Saunders began sending inappropriate text messages to the patient after an office Christmas party in 2017, with his behaviour carrying on for some months, the State Adminsitrative Tribunal heard.

He said to the woman she was “such a f...ing turn on”, and left sexually explicit voicemails expressing his desire to have sex with her and engage in other sexual acts.

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The SAT heard he sent the woman pictures of his penis and asked her to show him her nipples, as well as masturbate in front of him.

Dr Saunders’ was advised by his supervisor that they had received complaints about him and that his contract would be terminated in four weeks.

Three days later, Dr Saunders’ employer received further complaints and he was fired on the spot, the SAT heard.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency was then advised about his conduct and launched an investigation.

After a complaint was made to AHPRA, Dr Saunders sent his patient’s partner messages saying “there is only one winner” and “she will retract her statement”.

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The doctor threatened to release images of the woman after a complaint was made to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Credit: istock

He threatened to leak photos of the woman and said to her partner: “She won’t be laughing much longer.”

The SAT heard he also engaged with another patient outside of work, sending thousands of text messages and voicemails.

After a complaint was made, he sent the patient a message pleading for them to retract their statement.

“It’s had huge implications on me and I don’t want this to go further. I hope you understand.”

When AHPRA suspended the doctor’s registration, he sent the patient a text message saying: “Looks like you won.”

The SAT found the doctor had “transgressed professional sexual boundaries”.

“The tribunal is satisfied that proper cause exists for disciplinary action against the respondent,” the SAT ruled.

“The respondent has behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct.”

The SAT further found Dr Saunders was “regretful and remorseful” about his conduct.

It also noted the cancellation of Dr Saunders’ right to practice in Australia would lead to the cancellation of his visa and he could be required to depart the country.

Dr Saunders can reapply for his Australian medical licence in 12 months and was ordered to pay $45,000 in costs.

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