GP jailed for sex attacks on female patients

A FORMER GP will spend the next 16 months in jail after admitting to nine counts of sexual assault against female patients.

Nemalan Seshagiri Moodley, 42, faced sentencing at Ipswich District Court yesterday, having earlier entered pleas of guilty to the charges, relating to assaults against six different women.

The court heard Moodley had been working as a GP at Gatton, Laidley and Plainland during the course of the offending, which was protracted over more than six years.

His female victims, who consulted him for a range of medical issues, ranging from back pain, to a request for a pap smear test, ranged in age from 17 to 40.

Crown prosecutor Caroline Marco said the bulk of the offences involved a still fully clothed Moodley rubbing his groin area against the women.

One of the complainants - a 36-year-old woman who had gone to Gatton Plaza Medical Centre for back and neck pain - noted that the doctor was groaning as he rubbed himself from side to side against her upper thigh and hip.

Another of the victims - a 35-year-old woman who saw Moodley when he was working at a Plainlands doctor's surgery - made four separate complaints against the former GP.

Ms Marco told the court that in most cases, the women told family, friends, other doctors and even police, but were initially encouraged not to proceed.

It was after the allegations of a 34-year-old woman were widely publicised on TV and in print that other victims began to re-emerge.

Victim impact statements that were read out to the court spoke mainly of the distrust each of the women had developed towards male medical practitioners.

Defence barrister Mal Harrison said his client faced the prospect of being deported if sentenced to jail and would likely never be allowed to practise as a doctor again.

Moodley, who is married and has two children, arrived in the country on a 457 Visa, which was cancelled when the allegations came to light.

Judge Greg Koppenol heard lengthy sentencing submissions from both the Crown and defence, with both parties at least agreeing the breach of trust was a serious aspect. In the end, Judge Koppenol imposed a head sentence of four years each of the counts of sexual assault, to be served concurrently, to be suspended after 16 months.

"This case is an illustration of a shocking and disgraceful breach of trust against female patients," the judge said.

"It is also a gross abuse of power. You let down these women, as well as other doctors and a society which views medical practitioners in the highest regard."

Moodley's wife wept outside the courtroom after the sentencing, loudly protesting what she believed to be her husband's innocence. She was comforted by a large contingent of supporters for the defendant.

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