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Doctor censured for abuse victim comments

A NSW doctor has been found guilty of misconduct after a patient who disclosed a history of sexual violence says he questioned her for graphic details and told her to watch an explicit documentary.

Bruce Desmond Litchfield had his name removed from the medical registry in 1997 after he was found to be motivated by sexual gratification when touching multiple women’s breasts while examining them, and placing one patient’s hands on his own genitals.

After two failed attempts he successfully registered as a health practitioner in 2012 and worked in Tweed Heads from July 2018.

The Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Litchfield guilty of professional misconduct on Wednesday and is considering “onerous conditions” to be imposed if his registration is not cancelled.

The recent complaint stems from one of Litchfield’s patients in 2019 who told him that she was being treated by a psychologist for PTSD and was getting help for sexual violence following a four-year history of assaults by her ex-husband.

In a statement the woman said Litchfield said “and in those four years you didn’t ever put your hand up to stop it?”.

“He then stated you must be into S&M – sadomasochism and I said No. I am not. I was raped,” she wrote.

“I did try many times for it to stop but my ex-husband is a manipulative abuser,” she said she told him.

She recalled feeling shocked in having to defend herself but the inappropriate comments continued.

Asking whether she had reported the abuse, the woman said she did not because of her ongoing trauma and fear of retribution from her former partner.

“I think that’s a good decision not to report,” she says Litchfield told her.

As she was getting out of her chair to leave the appointment, she recalled Litchfield’s alleged parting words to her.

“There’s a documentary called 100 Vaginas I think it would be good for you to watch”.

During a later appointment she says the doctor asked her about how many men abused her, was her husband watching or what else was he doing at the time, and other similar details.

She soon reported these conversations to her psychologist.

Litchfield denies saying that and several other alleged comments but admits some, and others with different “framing”.

He agrees to saying that the woman’s son has “half his father’s DNA, he would be like him in some ways,” or words to the effect.

The doctor also admits he pressed the patient for information regarding the sexual assaults that initiated her PTSD, and “tested the integrity of her narrative”.

And he agrees he suggested dating sites for the woman to explore and for her to be careful forging new relationships due to her history.

Litchfield presented evidence at tribunal hearings in November 2021, and January 2022, of his Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.

His inability to understand boundary violations and the causing of social distress was confirmed by a medical expert.

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