Warning: This article discusses allegations which may be distressing to some people.
"Violated, humiliated and actually quite powerless."
A woman claims she felt used, "like a piece of meat", by a lower North Island doctor accused of carrying out intimate examinations in inappropriate circumstances.
He's charged with acting in breach of ethical obligations and or accepted standards of practice – with complaints spanning from 1998 to 2006.
They include multiple claims rectal and or testicular examinations which weren't necessary, in inappropriate circumstances, or their purpose was poorly communicated.
He's also accused of the same issues for several visual examinations, including for the perineum area, as well as requiring some patients to bend over in their underwear.
Today, the first patient took the stand at a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, recounting her medical assessment with the man in 2002.
The woman claimed that during her physical examination, which was required for work purposes, he asked her to remove clothes and bend over, for one part of the assessment.
At the time, she said she felt really embarrassed as she was wearing a G-string and even asked whether she could wear pants, or if they had any shorts she could borrow – to which she alleged he laughed.
An offer was made from him to get a nurse, she said, but the woman didn't want that because she felt that would have meant a larger audience.
"He made me feel like I was being really silly and holding him up."
During the appointment, she claimed he said they needed to check for haemorrhoids, which she told the hearing she had had no problems with in the past.
However, the woman had suffered constipation but she said this did not come up at the time.
She alleged that as she lay on the table in the foetal position she was asked to pull her pants down by her knees.
After she lowered her pants, she told the Tribunal he inserted a finger or two into her anus, up to about the first indent.
"As far as I know, haemorrhoids come out and they're visible, so I don't know why you would need your finger to go in," she said.
Following this, she claimed he touched her genitals.
The woman said she felt his hand go around her vagina from the behind "like a peace sign".
During cross-examination, the doctor's lawyer Harry Waalkens questioned whether the woman kept notes of the incident at the time, which she said she did not.
"You're really having to go by your recollection of what happened back in 2002?"
"I trust my memory" she answered, "... because of how it made me feel".
The woman said, what made it worse for her, was realising that the haemorrhoid check was not on the medical examination form which she went there to check off.
Earlier she said she had written about the incident in a feedback form, but claimed nothing happened and she didn't follow it up.
She said she felt and still feels guilty for not speaking up sooner.
Waalkens asked the woman why "on earth" she didn't make a complaint earlier when she had "years and years and years to".
"What's changed now to put yourself out there?"
"Time, age," she said.
The person tasked with investigating the allegations within the organisation told the hearing they contacted 52 current and former staff members regarding their consultations – 13 of which gave answers which were "of concern".
He said this led to a search warrant for the doctors' practice regarding 18 patients.
Waalkens raised concerns regarding suggestibility of the patients when they were interviewed.
He questioned the template used by the organisation to speak to former patients and chatter amongst workers.
Waalkens spoke of a blog post, which warned readers to "watch out" for the doctor as he was "dodgy".
Eleven more patients are set to speak this week, and the Tribunal will wrap up later next week.
Where to get help
• If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (Available 24/7)
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand - find your closest one here.
• Mosaic - Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am - 8pm)
• If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.
• Wellington HELP has a 24/7 helpline for people who need to speak to someone immediately. You can call 04 801 6655 and push 0 at the menu.