Confidential settlement with Churchyard estate

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Originally published in The Age.

More than 50 patients allegedly molested by a Melbourne neurologist have settled one of the biggest medical abuse cases in Australia.

Lawyers for 52 of Dr Andrew Churchyard’s former patients announced the confidential settlement after Supreme Court proceedings were launched against his estate last year. The settlement was made with a denial of liability clause.

Dr Churchyard took his own life after being committed to stand trial in connection to allegations he sexually abused 19-year-old Tom Monagle, and was under police investigation over three other complaints.

More than 100 alleged victims came forward after Fairfax Media revealed the case of Dr Churchyard.

The case also forced Australia’s medical watchdog to announce a review of the way it oversees doctors accused of sexual assaults.

The Medical Board of Australia ordered Dr Churchyard to work with a chaperone while seeing male patients from May 28, 2015, following allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Cabrini Health allowed Dr Churchyard to continue practising after he was charged by police, while Monash Medical Centre decided to suspend him to protect patient safety.

But one of his alleged victims says he was abused at Cabrini while the chaperone was present but while the doctor and patient were behind a screen.

Bree Knoester, of Adviceline Injury Lawyers, said she hoped the settlement would bring some closure and peace for many of her clients.

“It’s been a long and hard fought road,” she said. “I am proud that we have been able to achieve an outcome that not only provides support to the victims, but also gives them a voice.”

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