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Psychiatrist disqualified for five years for sexually assaulting ‘very vulnerable’ patient
By Melissa Iaria
March 18, 2021

Psych Prabakar Rajan Thomas

Psych Prabakar Rajan Thomas

A psychiatrist has been disqualified for five years for sexually assaulting a vulnerable patient and showing her pornography when she told him medication had reduced her sex drive.

Prabakar Rajan Thomas, now 71, was also reprimanded by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for his assault on the woman, then aged 44.

The patient, known as Ms AB, was referred to the Melbourne doctor in 2011 for treatment of bipolar and began attending regular appointments.

When she raised concerns her medication had reduced her sex drive, Thomas began asking personal questions about her sex life and showed her adult pornographic material on a computer in his consulting suite.

He also rubbed her breast and backside and told her she was “sexy” after she said the medication made her gain weight.

During a 2015 appointment, which was the anniversary of the death of her stillborn child, the woman was again asked by Thomas about her sexual practices.

This made her scared and nervous to see him again, so she cancelled a few appointments.

When she eventually made another appointment to get more medication, he questioned why she had previously cancelled.

During the consultation, he fondled and exposed her breasts, touched her over her clothes and tried to kiss her.

Thomas at first denied wrongdoing but later pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

He was jailed for a minimum 14 months in 2019, with his parole term expiring at the end of this month.

Ms AB came away from the sessions feeling worse and questioning who she could trust, the tribunal was told.

She tried to block out what happened with alcohol and attempted to take her own life.

Years after, she still reported difficulty sleeping, had constant flashbacks and felt scared.

In its ruling on Wednesday, VCAT deemed Thomas’s conduct of a “very serious nature”.

Thomas was now unemployed and said to be living on the aged pension and his age and ailing health meant he was unlikely to practise again.

However, deterring others from similar behaviour was especially important in this case, VCAT senior member John Billings and members Dr Peter McNeill and Dr Patricia Molloy said.

“Dr Thomas’s conduct involved grooming prior to the sexual assault,” they said.

“Ms AB was a very vulnerable patient who relied on Dr Thomas for proper care. The professional relationship was longstanding. Dr Thomas was aware of Ms AB’s mental health condition and the likelihood that his misconduct would exacerbate her problems.

“By our determinations, we signal to other members of the profession that serious adverse consequences will follow conduct of the kind that Dr Thomas engaged in, so as to deter them from the same conduct, in the interests of maintaining professional standards and public confidence in the profession.”