Heart specialist is guilty of molesting young boys
Professor Bonhoeffer carried out the acts while working in Paris and on trips to Nairobi
Jeremy Laurance is Health Editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Saturday 22 September 2012
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An internationally renowned heart specialist who worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London was found guilty of sexually molesting young boys in France and Kenya yesterday.
Philipp Bonhoeffer, former head of cardiology at the children's hospital until 2009, carried out the acts while working in Paris and on trips to Nairobi with a medical charity between 1995 and 2008. A panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service found Professor Bonhoeffer had had sexual contact with a number of boys and young men, shared a bed with them or touched them inappropriately, when they were underage or without their consent.
Professor Bonhoeffer has not attended the hearing or been represented since withdrawing from the case last May.
In France, where Professor Bonhoeffer worked until 2000, he was welcomed into the home of a couple and gave violin lessons to their son, then aged nine, with whom he shared a room. The panel found on one occasion he had sat next to the boy while he was apparently sleeping, caressed his body and touched his penis.
The panel accepted evidence from the couple that, when confronted, Professor Bonhoeffer admitted he "had a love for pre-pubescent young boys and that, because everything had to be done secretly, this love had turned him into a very lonely person."
The panel also accepted that Professor Bonhoeffer had said that there was "no help for him and that his career would be ruined if they went to the police".
But these charges were not found proven because the panel concluded "nothing specific" had been put to Professor Bonhoeffer during the confrontation with the boy's parents and he had not admitted touching their son.
On a trip to Kenya in 1995, Professor Bonhoeffer spent a night at a camp sleeping out in the open with a boy, then aged 13, known as witness A, with whom he had a long relationship. During the night Professor Bonhoeffer "placed his hand inside [the boy's] lower clothing" and "touched his genital area", the panel found. He told the boy he was a doctor and was "doing this to find his femoral vein".
During the same trip he told A he would make sure he went to high school and would support him to do so, which the panel found "inappropriate and sexually motivated".
In August 2008, Professor Bonhoeffer was found in a flat at the Mater Hospital, Nairobi, kissing a boy named as witness F, than aged 10 or 11, on the mouth. The panel said his actions were "inappropriate" and "sexually motivated".
The panel will now consider whether Professor Bonheoffer's fitness to practice is impaired and, if so, what sanction to apply. He has been suspended from the medical register and banned from practising pending the outcome of the case.
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