24 Jun 2016

Psychologist, inmate had relationship

12:13 pm on 24 June 2016

A prison psychologist who began a sexual relationship with an inmate hours after he was released has been found guilty of sexual misconduct and breaching professional boundaries.

The woman has been censured by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and given restrictions to re-registration. She had already withdrawn her registration as a psychologist prior to the tribunal's decision.

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The psychologist told the former inmate she was sleeping with not to tell the parole board about their relationship (file photo). Photo: 123rf

The pair first became close in jail and when the prisoner was granted early release by the parole board, he delayed it to allow the psychologist to help him.

Their sexual relationship began the night he was released in June 2012, the decision from the tribunal says.

The woman, who has name suppression, secretly met him to help set up bank accounts and deal with WINZ.

Later that night he came to her cabin where he stayed for the next two days.

They continued to meet, with the man sometimes travelling to be with the woman, and she gave him gifts and small amounts of cash.

She asked him not to tell the parole board.

Part way through their relationship, the woman resigned from Corrections to take up another job as a senior psychologist.

The man was eventually sentenced to another term of imprisonment and made a complaint about the woman.

In its decision, the tribunal said her misconduct was serious.

It cited the code of ethics for psychologists, saying sexual relationships with clients during or for some time after therapy was unethical because there was a power imbalance.