ACC doctor sues sex abuse victim

By Claire Trevett

Photo / Alan Gibson
Photo / Alan Gibson

A senior ACC sensitive claims clinician is suing a sexual abuse claimant for $250,000 for defamation over a satirical blog post she wrote about him.

ACC Minister Nick Smith last night asked for an urgent report on the matter after the legal action taken by ACC senior medical adviser Peter Jansen was raised in Parliament by Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni.

The woman wrote a blog about Dr Jansen in November last year, a few months after the conclusion of an independent review into ACC's handling of sensitive claims such as sexual abuse counselling.

Dr Jansen was the lead clinician in the sensitive claims unit and the blog post was a mock ACC assessment of Dr Jansen.

The woman could not be contacted yesterday, but her blog said the post in question was satirical and only about 15 people followed her blog.

She also questioned how Dr Jansen obtained her address to serve legal papers, which she said was confidential because of child protection issues.

She had applied to restart counselling for sexual abuse in January 2009 and her claim was accepted.

However, seven months later the counselling had not yet been provided so she emailed Dr Jansen, who replied to say it was referred to the "media" department.

The next she heard was this week when his lawyer served the defamation suit on her.

"Here's another thought - maybe if ACC has got off their ass and given me the 'mental illness' treatment I was assessed for, then maybe, just maybe, this sort of s*** would not have happened."

In Parliament Ms Sepuloni asked if it was "fair treatment" for a senior medical adviser at ACC to sue a sexual abuse victim "for speaking her mind on a blog about the appalling treatment of sexual abuse victims under his watch?"

A spokesman for Dr Smith later said he had no knowledge of any legal action by Dr Jansen and was seeking an urgent report.

Ms Sepuloni had Dr Jansen's statement of claim to the High Court seeking $200,000 in general damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages.

It states that the post was "false and defamatory" and as a result Dr Jansen was "greatly injured in his professional and personal reputation, has been exposed and held up to ridicule and contempt and has been seriously injured in his reputation and character".

An accompanying letter from his lawyer said the woman was asked to remove the post in December 2010 but had not obliged.

Dr Jansen said he would not comment yesterday and referred the Herald to ACC's media team.

General manager claims management Denise Cosgrove said it was a private suit by Dr Hansen and ACC had no evidence to suggest he had used or accessed ACC information for it.

She said ACC could not identify the client from the posting but said there were processes in place to deal with complaints.

"If they are a client then they would get the same treatment and service from ACC as any other client regardless of whether they blog or not."

Dr Jansen is also on the Health Quality and Safety Commission.

A Distinguished Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners for his work in cultural competence, he is a past deputy chairman of Counties Manukau DHB, a board member of MidCentral Health and a director of Quality Health NZ.

- NZ Herald

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