Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Doctor cleared of sexual misconduct
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Doctor cleared of sexual misconduct

29 May 2023

Tasmanian medical doctor Reinhard Hemm has been cleared of sexual misconduct after a tribunal cited concerns about variations in the detail of the notifier’s account to different people.

A receptionist at Dr Hemm’s Hobart clinic told the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal he had taken her into a patient examination room to discuss her career on 20 July 2020, where he touched her inappropriately without consent and made sexualised comments to her about her appearance and clothing.

The junior employee alleged Dr Hemm spoke with her flirtatiously throughout the encounter, which included asking her to lie on a bed to do a demonstration that included touching above her pelvic bone and on her chest, as well as running his hands through her hair. He also made several sexualised comments about her body and clothing.

Dr Hemm denied the allegations which the Medical Board of Australia had referred to the tribunal for alleged professional misconduct.

Dr Hemm told the tribunal that although the receptionist was struggling with her work and seemed unmotivated to stay, he had wanted her to remain employed at the holistic medicine clinic.

Tribunal Deputy President Alison Clues found that although she had no doubt the receptionist found the encounter ‘strange and unsettling,' there were ‘stark inconsistencies’ in the accounts she had shared with colleagues, family members, a GP, police, and the evidence presented at the tribunal.

‘At the hearing she provided clear and unshaken evidence. She was not defensive when challenged about variations in previous accounts of what occurred over time,’ the tribunal member found.

‘At the hearing she was firm in her assertions that comprised the particulars of the complaint against the respondent. However, a lot of the evidence she gave was inconsistent with accounts she had given earlier to witnesses.’

The Board submitted to the tribunal that Dr Hemm had returned from a long lunch, had taken the young female employee into a room to discuss advancing her career, and used his position of power to take advantage of her.

While the Board stated it considered it would be ‘incomprehensible’ for the employee to make up the story unless the conduct occurred, Ms Clues was not satisfied the woman’s anxiety and distress was caused by the allegations of misconduct and that anomalies in her evidence made it difficult to reach the civil standard of proof required.

‘I do not accept these submissions made on behalf of the Board,' Ms Clues said.

‘I find the respondent to be an honest and reliable witness. His version of the incident of 20 July 2020 has remained unchanged since he was initially made aware of the allegations against him. His denial of the allegations has remained consistent throughout.’

The tribunal found Dr Hemm had no case to answer and that no further action should be taken.

The tribunal’s full decision was published on Austlii.

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Page reviewed 29/05/2023