Woman sexually assaulted by oncologist ‘at risk of being labelled a trouble maker’

By court reporter Karl Hoerr

A woman who was drugged and indecently assaulted by a Sydney oncologist says she was “at risk of being labelled a trouble maker” for reporting the incident.

John Kearsley was the director of Radiation Oncology at St George Hospital when he placed benzodiazepine into a glass of wine he gave to a woman when she came to his house for dinner in 2013 and then indecently assaulted her.

The woman was a medical trainee in the same field and, in a victim impact statement read by a friend at a sentencing hearing, she said she knew that coming forward would cause problems for her career.

“I was at risk of being labelled a trouble maker,” she said.

Kearsley has pleaded guilty to administering an intoxicating substance and indecent assault.

The University of NSW withdrew Kearsley’s appointment and the Medical Council of New South Wales suspended his registration following his guilty plea.

Kearsley has since written to the victim, where he attributed his behaviour to his work and stress, as well as drinking.

“What I read in this letter are excuses,” said the victim.

“He is unwilling to take responsibility for his actions and I can’t help thinking that he is insulting my intelligence.”

‘There is an obvious imbalance in power’

The woman said she was told many times that she would be the one to lose through the court process.

“There is an obvious imbalance in power and I couldn’t help but feel small,” she said.

The victim said she once had so much respect for Kearsley and always called him, ‘Prof’.

She said the incident had a major impact on her sense of self-worth.

“Time is supposed to heal all wounds but I am still waiting,” she said.

A nursing manager who worked alongside Kearsley for many years, gave evidence on his behalf.

She described him as professional and a true gentlemen and said he faced a demanding workload.

The court was told Kearsley saw an average of up to 450 patients a year, many with terrible cancer prognoses.

Kearsley will be sentenced at a later date.