Former neurologist Dr Andrew Churchyard was charged by police with two counts of indecent assault in 2015. After a Magistrate found that there was enough evidence for a jury to find him guilty, he took his own life.
Since news broke of the allegations made against Dr Churchyard, more than 100 former patients have contacted Partner at Adviceline Injury Lawyers, Bree Knoester. In speaking with Dr Sally Cockburn on 3AW, Bree said that it was important that the doctor was publicly named. “Many of the victims thought that they were the only one. Having this story in the public domain has meant that these victims have been given a voice,” she said. “There are also former patients who are now realising that what took place wasn’t normal and wasn’t supposed to happen.”
Putting together a claim on behalf of her clients, Bree said that all of their stories were similar with worrying themes. Many patients felt uncomfortable by some examination methods employed by Dr Churchyard saying that it was difficult for them to know if he was being thorough or unreasonable.
“People had the impression he was the ‘Huntington’s guy’ or the ‘Friedreich’s ataxia guy’,” Bree said. “People thought they were seeing the best person in the field. That might have made them feel less willing to question his practices. And many patients said he made them feel like they didn’t need to see any other doctors and that he could provide all the medical services they needed.”
Bree welcomes the news that an independent review has been commissioned into the effectiveness of chaperoning restrictions in keeping patients safe. “The interests of the public are such that in circumstances where these types of allegations have been made, chaperoning is just not appropriate” said Bree.
Bree Knoester has acted for many victims of sexual abuse, including doctor/patient abuse and historical sex abuse cases. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, and would like legal advice, Bree can be contacted confidentially on her direct telephone number (03) 9321 9879.