03 Dec 2021
A former dental practitioner convicted and jailed for indecent assault has been reprimanded, disqualified from applying for registration and prohibited from providing health services for 15 years for professional misconduct.
Trigger warning: Some readers may find this article distressing. If you are experiencing distress, please contact Dental Practitioner Support on 1800 377 700 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for confidential help.
In November 2018, Nashaat Michael was convicted in the County Court of Victoria of nine charges of indecent assault.
The nine instances of indecent assault occurred between 1996 and 2015 against nine different complainants (eight patients and one member of staff, a dental nurse). The youngest victim was aged in her 20s and the oldest was aged in her 60s. Mr Michael was 38-56 years of age when he offended.
On 10 November 2021, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found that Mr Michael had behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct and his actions brought the dental profession into disrepute.
The tribunal ordered that Mr Michael be:
The tribunal found Mr Michael’s conduct was completely incompatible with him being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the profession.
It said: ‘… the sexual offending is indicative of a decision-making and judgement so flawed that the public may not be assured he is a person with sufficient moral integrity and rectitude of character to hold registration’.
The tribunal considered Mr Michael had not shown remorse for the impact that his conduct has had on his victims, or for the harm done to the reputation of the profession. His conduct required a severe disciplinary response to ensure protection of the public and to deter others in the profession from the same conduct, in the interests of maintaining professional standards and public confidence in the profession.
The Dental Board of Australia (the Board) received a notification from a former patient of Mr Michael in October 2014, alleging that he had engaged in inappropriate physical and/or sexual contact with her during the course of examination and/or treatment. The Board immediately started an investigation of this one complaint.
In October 2016, Victoria Police provided the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) with three witness statements from patients that alleged Mr Michael had indecently assaulted them. The Board acted quickly to impose gender-based conditions on Mr Michael’s registration. Not long afterwards, police charged Mr Michael.
At this time, Mr Michael initially denied any wrongdoing. The Board’s investigation was put on hold, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings. Although still practising, Mr Michael could not treat female patients.
Six further complainants came forward after media coverage of a contested committal hearing at which the three complainants to police gave evidence and were cross examined. In September 2018, Victoria Police informed the Board that Mr Michael had indicated he would plead guilty to nine counts of indecent assault.
Each incident of indecent assault of a patient occurred while Mr Michael was practising dentistry. The dental nurse was indecently assaulted when she and Mr Michael were alone in the consulting room.
In November 2018, Mr Michael was sentenced to seven years and three months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of four and a-half years.
The Board referred the matter to the tribunal on 15 September 2020. On 10 November 2021, the tribunal found that Mr Michael had engaged in professional misconduct and issued its orders.
Mr Michael was unregistered at the time of the hearing, having surrendered his registration in April 2019. He will be aged 78 in 15 years and does not intend to practise dentistry in the future.
The tribunal’s decision is published on the AustLII website.