Cardiologist struck off for molesting young boys

 

An internationally renowned former Great Ormond Street cardiologist has been struck off the medical register after he was found guilty of molesting young boys.

Philipp Bonhoeffer, the head of cardiology at the children's hospital, who was dismissed from the hospital in May 2010, was judged to have inappropriately touched a boy aged 10 in France in 1997. The doctor was also found to have behaved in an inappropriate manner towards teenagers in Kenya.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel ruled that his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct and decided to erase him from the register.

Professor Bonhoeffer, who abused boys for more than 15 years, was employed by Great Ormond Street from 2001 to May 2010 as a consultant cardiologist, and from 2002 as head of cardiology. His actions were "calculated, deplorable and an abuse of his special position of trust," the panel ruled.

The panel's chairman, David Kyle, said: "Professor Bonhoeffer has been found to have persistently exploited vulnerable young boys and young men over an extended period of time with sexual motivation.

"In Kenya, the abuse continued over a period of years in respect of the same group of boys. The panel has concluded that Professor Bonhoeffer's conduct is not merely unacceptable – it is fundamentally incompatible with continued medical registration."

He said that in Kenya, the cardiologist sought out contact with vulnerable children and abused them. Mr Kyle added: "Professor Bonhoeffer used his position in Kenya, both as a doctor and a wealthy foreigner, to create relationships whereby his victims owed him a debt, which he exploited for his own sexual purposes."

The panel said that Bonhoeffer has a "deep-seated behavioural problem" adding that the case represents one of the "most serious" forms of abuse.

On Friday, the panel decided which facts it found proved against the doctor – who did not attend the hearing.

The panel decided that while he was working at Hospital Necker, a teaching hospital in Paris, from 1995 to 1997, he sexually touched a 10-year-old boy.

Between 1993 and 2008, he travelled to Kenya to undertake charitable medical work. The panel found that in 1995, during an overnight stay at a camp in the Marsabit district of Kenya, he inappropriately touched a 13-year-old boy.

The panel ruled that this behaviour was sexually motivated, and when he told the boy he was a doctor and was trying to find his femoral vein, this was intended to mislead, and an abuse of his professional position.

During the same trip, he told the child that he would make sure he went to high school and would support him to do so. The panel said Bonhoeffer wrote to the boy in 1998 – when he was aged 16 – saying he loved him, and began to pay his high-school fees. He continued to provide him with money and gifts until 2008.

In August 2008, the cardiologist kissed a boy – aged 10 or 11 – who was the younger brother of one of his patients, the panel heard.

The panel also found that the professor arranged for other Kenyan boys to stay with him in a flat at the Mater Hospital, Nairobi, provided to him on his trips to Kenya for charity work.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said: "We welcome the decision to remove Professor Philipp Bonhoeffer's name from the medical register. We will be informing every medical regulatory authority in the world of this decision."

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