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The Age
Psychiatrist who got ‘vulnerable’ client pregnant struck off until 2020
By Melissa Iaria
May 28, 2019

Psychiatrist Luke Ainsworth

Psychiatrist Luke Ainsworth

A psychiatrist who got a patient pregnant after she was referred to him following a workplace sex assault has been banned from practising until next year.

The patient saw Luke Ainsworth five times during 2016 and a personal relationship unfolded between them.

She had been referred to him by her psychologist after a workplace sex assault and subsequent attempt at self-harm.

The woman told a tribunal that during her first appointment, Dr Ainsworth questioned her in detail about her sexual history in a “voyeuristic” way.

She alleged he encouraged her to contact him and meet up out of hours.

A sexual relationship ensued and she soon discovered she was pregnant. She alleged she felt pressured by him to terminate the pregnancy, which she did.

The woman said he told her not to tell anyone about it.

Dr Ainsworth denied pressuring her to end the pregnancy but admitted saying something to the effect of: “If I lost my career, I’d have to kill myself.”

The woman said she broke up with the doctor after he denied their relationship to her stepmother.

Under cross-examination, Dr Ainsworth said there was only sex on one night with no expectation of a further relationship.

He said it was unplanned, he was drunk and she had no way of getting home.

He said the relationship happened as his own physical and mental health deteriorated and blamed a “reckless, cavalier streak”, a “hypo-manic” state brought on by antidepressants he prescribed himself, and alcohol abuse.

The doctor also told the tribunal he was “bedazzled” by the woman’s apparent veneer of success and confidence and did not recognise the destructive decisions he was making.

He was aware his conduct harmed many people, including the woman, his partner, family, friends and colleagues.

The Medical Board of Australia was notified of his conduct in August 2016 and referred the matter to the tribunal.

After this, Dr Ainsworth gave an undertaking not to practise and allowed his registration to lapse.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal this week found him guilty of professional misconduct and disqualified him from applying to register as a medical practitioner before December 31.

“Dr Ainsworth demonstrated insight into his condition but still exhibited some naivety,” VCAT member Wendy Boddison said.

“The fact Dr Ainsworth was bedazzled by [the woman] and lost sight of the reason for her referral indicates how impaired his judgement was and how far Dr Ainsworth had departed from appropriate professional conduct.”

Ms Boddison said the woman was in a “particularly vulnerable” position and the disqualification sent a clear message the doctor’s conduct was unacceptable.

She said the disqualification would help “maintain proper ethical and professional standards to protect the public and to protect the stature and integrity of the profession”.