20 Feb 2009

Public safety priority in sex-abuse doctor case - Medical Council

2:29 am on 20 February 2009

The Medical Council says public safety will be its top priority if it is called to rule on an Auckland doctor who has admitted sexually assaulting girls.

The 59-year-old man has pleaded guilty to three child-sex charges relating to the late 1970s and 1980s.

He has applied for permanent name suppression so he can work as a doctor again.

Detective Sergeant Andy King says the man was held in high regard by the community, and the sexual assaults were a massive breach of trust.

He says the Crown will oppose the man's application for permanent name suppression.

In order to work again as a doctor the man would have to get clearance from the Medical Council.

Council chair Professor John Campbell says the organisation has set procedures to follow, including referring the case to a professional conduct committee.

He told Morning Report the council would need to be absolutely sure that the public was safe before issuing an annual practising certificate.

The abuse happened in a Coromandel community where the man worked as a GP.

The complainants, three girls aged between five and nine at the time, say they played at the man's house and were sexually assaulted in front of other children.

They say they were told they were playing as adults do and were too frightened to tell their parents what happened at the time.

The man will be sentenced on 24 April in the High Court at Auckland.