Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Butcher of Bega" charged with assaulting patients

Australian doctor charged with assaulting patients
By KRISTEN GELINEAU Associated Press Writer
Posted: Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2008

SYDNEY, Australia A former gynecologist was arrested Wednesday in Australia on charges that he sexually assaulted several patients and mutilated the genitals of at least one of them during surgery, authorities said.

Graeme Reeves, 58, was arrested in Sydney following an investigation into 113 allegations of misconduct involving at least 10 patients between 2001 and 2003 in Sydney and the southern New South Wales town of Bega.

Reeves, dubbed the "Butcher of Bega" by the Australian media, was charged with nine counts of aggravated sexual assault, six counts of indecent assault, one count of female genital mutilation and one count of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm.

He faces life in prison if convicted on all charges.

Reeves appeared briefly in court Wednesday but did not enter a plea. His lawyer, Greg Murray, argued for bail, but Parramatta Local Court Magistrate James Garbett rejected the request, calling the former doctor a flight risk. Reeves' next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 5.

A message left on Murray's mobile phone seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Child Protection and Sex Crimes Squad Superintendent John Kerlatec said in a statement that the charges filed against Reeves "are a testament of the courage demonstrated by these women who have bravely come forward to report such traumatic events."

One patient, who underwent surgery in 2002 to remove a lesion from her labia, told reporters earlier this year that as she was falling asleep from general anesthesia before the operation, Reeves whispered to her that he planned to remove her clitoris. The woman said all her external genitalia were removed during the operation.

Reeves was appointed as a visiting medical officer in obstetrics and gynecology at Sydney's Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital in 1985. Over the next 15 years, 35 complaints were lodged against him by co-workers and patients, including accusations that he bullied staff and failed to offer patients proper anesthesia and pain relief during procedures.

In 1997, a professional standards committee of the state's medical board held an inquiry into
Reeves' conduct after one of his patients died of septicemia after giving birth because he refused to give her antibiotics. The board found him guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and ordered him to stop practicing obstetrics - though he was allowed to continue working as a doctor at various hospitals.

Reeves also was ordered to receive psychiatric treatment after the board determined he suffered from personality problems and depression that impaired his ability to practice medicine.

But Reeves continued to practice obstetrics. In 2004, his license was revoked for defying the board's orders.
Police declined to release additional details of the allegations against Reeves.

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