SINGAPORE: A physiotherapist has been struck off by a disciplinary tribunal after he was convicted of molesting a teenage client, the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) said in a press release on Thursday (May 23).
In their grounds of decision, the tribunal concluded that Luke Manimaran Degarajoo was not suitable for a "lengthy suspension" and that his registration in the Register of Allied Health Professionals with Full Registration was removed with effect from Apr 30.
Degarajoo, a principal rehabilitation therapist at The Rehab Physio Practice at the time of the offence, was charged and convicted on Mar 21, 2018 for using criminal force with intent to outrage the modesty of an 18-year-old female client.
When the teenager went to his clinic in March 2017, he asked her to remove all her clothes during the physiotherapy session and molested her twice. When questioned by the victim's friend as to whether customers had to be naked, Degarajoo replied that the client needed a deep massage for her injury.
"Mr Degarajoo admitted that he did so with the intent to outrage the victim’s modesty, and he knew that this was not part of the treatment," AHPC said.
He was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment and three strokes of the cane.
According to the tribunal's grounds of decision, a "severe punishment" involving his removal from the register, as opposed to a lengthy suspension, was meted out to Degarajoo because it was necessary to uphold public confidence for the profession of physiotherapists, whose work involved physical contact with their patients.
It also noted that Degarajoo "demonstrated that he does not possess the necessary attributes required of him by the profession", in light of the fact that he molested the client twice in a single session and attempted to conceal his misconduct.
An aggravating factor considered by the tribunal was that this was the first time a registered physiotherapist had committed acts of molestation in the course of his professional duties.
"When deciding on sentencing in disciplinary cases involving misconduct, the interest of the public is paramount," the AHPC said.
Degarajoo will also have to pay the costs and expenses for the disciplinary proceedings, including the costs of the solicitor to the council.