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Sydney Morning Herald
Former psychiatrist Francis Bostock ordered to pay damages to patient he abused
By Julia Medew
December 16, 2014

16 Walpole Street, Kew, Victoria, Australia

16 Walpole Street, Kew, Victoria, Australia

A former Melbourne psychiatrist who had sex with a patient for years and billed Medicare $16,000 for their time together has been ordered to pay the woman nearly $400,000 in damages.

A Supreme Court judge recently heard former Kew psychiatrist Francis Tudor Bostock breached his duty of care by having sex with and sexually assaulting the woman over three-and-a-half years while she had depression.

The patient first sought Dr Bostock’s help in 1990 for her mental illness, which other treatments had failed to alleviate.

Dr Bostock initially used psychoanalytical psychotherapy on her with some success, but in 1997, the pair started having sex in his rooms whenever she attended.

While the therapeutic relationship ceased when the sex began, Dr Bostock continued to bill Medicare when she visited his rooms until 1998. In total, Medicare paid him $16,464 for their time together.

The woman visited him up to three times a week until she ended their relationship in 2001. Apart from their sexual relationship, they did not interact or socialise outside of his office.

In her judgment on damages, Associate Justice Melissa Daly said the woman fell in love with Bostock and became obsessed with her therapy and feelings about him.

The woman decided to end their relationship when she learnt about the concept of transference in psychotherapy — the process whereby a therapist, in addressing issues associated with the loss of love from a parent, in effect replaces the role of a parent in a patient’s consciousness. This made the woman realise how wrong their relationship was and how Dr Bostock had abused his position of power.

The court heard that during their relationship and for many years afterwards, the woman was consumed by guilt and shame and struggled to work. She became depressed, anxious, untrusting of others and suffered migraines and panic attacks.

In 2005, she started seeing a new psychiatrist, who was angry and appalled by what had happened to her. He told the court that Dr Bostock’s sexual relationship with the woman was a major boundary violation that was equivalent to child abuse.

He said the woman was unable to give rational consent to a sexual relationship with Dr Bostock, that his actions “massively damaged” her and had aggravated her mental illness. She now exhibits elements of post traumatic stress disorder and has dreams and flashbacks about him.

In 2010, the woman reported him to the Medical Board. In response, Justice Daly said, Dr Bostock admitted the relationship and agreed to wind up his practice. His registration ceased in early 2011. He was nearly 70 at that time.

While Dr Bostock declared himself bankrupt last year, seven months after the woman issued a writ against him, Justice Daly ordered Dr Bostock to pay the woman $384,029 in damages.

She said Dr Bostock did not file a defence and “as such is taken to have admitted the allegations in the statement of claim”.

The woman’s lawyer, Slater and Gordon principal Anne Shortall, said her client would pursue compensation when the term of Dr Bostock’s bankruptcy ends in 2016.

Francis Bostock