Tribunal cancels psychologist's registration

04 Nov 2019

The ACT tribunal has found a psychologist guilty of professional misconduct, cancelled his registration and banned him from applying for registration until 7 February 2022.

On 31 May 2019, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found Dr Dev Roychowdhury, a psychologist, had engaged in an intimate sexual relationship with a patient with whom he had a clinical relationship, that the intimate relationship was emotionally and physically abusive, and that he lied to AHPRA and the Board during the investigation and misled his colleagues.

Between 13 August 2014 and 25 September 2014, Dr Roychowdhury was in a therapeutic relationship with the patient.
From early October 2014 until March 2015, Dr Roychowdhury engaged in an intimate romantic and sexual relationship with the patient during which Dr Roychowdhury engaged in violent behaviour and emotional intimidation.

The Board became aware of the relationship through a mandatory notification about Dr Roychowdhury’s conduct made by another psychologist with whom the patient had consulted.

The Board took immediate action and suspended Dr Roychowdhury’s registration on 18 October 2016.

During the subsequent investigation Dr Roychowdhury failed to cooperate, denied the allegations against him, and sought references and support from colleagues without disclosing the full or true nature of the allegations against him. When seeking references from his colleagues, Dr Roychowdhury also made misleading assertions about the patient.

The Board decided to refer the matter to the tribunal, having formed the reasonable belief that Dr Roychowdhury’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct.

On the day of the hearing Dr Roychowdhury conceded that:

  • he had engaged in an intimate sexual relationship with a person with whom he had a clinical relationship;
  • the intimate relationship was emotionally and physically abusive; and
  • he misled AHPRA and the Board during the investigation process. In doing so he also misled his colleagues for personal gain.

Although Dr Roychowdhury admitted the conduct, he contended that it should be characterised as unprofessional conduct.

The tribunal did not agree and found that each of the three allegations individually constituted professional misconduct. The tribunal was concerned by the seriousness of the conduct as well as Dr Roychowdhury’s apparent lack of insight.

The tribunal was satisfied that the circumstances of the case, the vulnerability of the patient and the lack of any real mitigating factors, put this case in the more serious category of boundary violation, for which professional misconduct is the usual finding.

Dr Roychowdhury’s registration was cancelled and he was disqualified from applying for registration for a period of three years.

The decision is published on the Austlii website.

 
 
Page reviewed 4/11/2019