A Sydney doctor who seduced a patient he was treating for post-traumatic stress disorder then emotionally abused her for months has been banned from practising for at least four years.
Right from their first consultation, Gregory Peck treated the woman inappropriately, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found when deciding a complaint against the doctor this week.
Over a year and a half, Dr Peck verbally abused the woman, demanded her silence over their affair, and tried to persuade her to lie to investigators, it concluded.
He began seeing the patient at Heartwood Recovery at The Heights Medical Practice in June 2017 to process a workers compensation claim.
The 38-year-old woman – then a police officer – was diagnosed with PTSD and chronic depression, partly triggered by bullying and sexual harassment at work.
During their initial consultation, the patient says Dr Peck shouted at her, saying she wasn’t “cut out to be a copper” until she became distressed and dissolved into tears.
“The respondent didn’t stop yelling at her,” the tribunal report notes.
At another consultation in September 2017, he told the woman she had “nice breasts” and conducted an unsolicited skin check, pulling the woman’s dress away from her body to gaze down her back.
Within a year of their first meeting, Dr Peck initiated a sexual and personal relationship with the patient which spanned eight months, until January 2019.
During the time he treated the patient, the doctor told her she’d lose her workers compensation and become homeless if she ever disclosed their relationship, and tried to make a suicide pact with her one time after sex.
At one consultation, in front of a colleague, he told the woman she was “too dumb for university” and needed to consider just “doing hairdressing in (her) shed”.
The patient had been speaking about the option of going to university if she quit the police force and left the consultation crying.
Dr Peck later also verbally abused her over her desire to become a mother.
He told her she had rage issues and would probably shake her own child to death, and at another consultation said “you’ll never be a mum and you need to give that up”.
Dr Peck also pursued sexual encounters he knew were extremely painful for the woman due to a cyst, and sent her explicit images and videos.
His patient also told investigators he had tried to draw her into a “conspiracy” to report they had only had sex twice.
The Health Care Complaints Commission argued that compounded his misconduct along with the fact that Dr Peck was acutely aware of the woman’s vulnerability.
Dr Peck – who refused to attend the hearing – admitted the relationship through his lawyer, but contested the patient’s version of events on some points.
But the tribunal dismissed his story, accepting the evidence of his patient.
“The allegation sits comfortably with the type of behaviour which the respondent admits and which behaviour is egregious in its nature and extent,” the tribunal said.
Dr Peck has since been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and complex PTSD and has expressed genuine remorse, his lawyer said.
The tribunal acknowledged that when handing down its decision.
“This case is, in many respects, a very sad case. It involves a vulnerable patient,” the report said.
“We consider that had he not been impacted by his illness, the practitioner would most probably not have conducted himself in the manner he did.”
The tribunal found Dr Peck was unfit to practice, and guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct.
He is disqualified from providing any health services unless the tribunal makes a reinstatement order, and banned from reapplying for registration for at least four years.
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Australian Associated Press