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“I still feel rage, shame” 

A young doctor’s life is in ruins after sexual assault by oncologist mentor 

A female registrar who was drugged and assaulted by a high-profile oncologist has told the New South Wales District Court that her world is “broken” and her “whole belief system collapsed”.  

“Time is supposed to heal all wounds but I am still waiting,” she said in a victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing in July. “I still feel the same rage, shame and desire to disappear.” 

On Friday, months after pleading guilty to administering an intoxicating substance and indecent assault, oncologist John Kearsley, 63, was sentenced to four years three months in prison, with a non-parole period of two years three months.

At the time of the assault in 2013, Kearsley was director of radiation oncology at St George Hospital. His victim, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was in her twenties. The young registrar had gone to Kearsley’s inner-west home to discuss her career over dinner. He was known as a generous entertainer and trusted mentor. 

Kearsley spiked her wine with benzodiazepine, a strong sedative used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Feeling sleepy and dizzy, the woman passed out. She woke to find him kissing her nipples, and fled. A urine test the next day confirmed she had been drugged.

Judge Penelope Hock was satisfied that the assault was not pre-meditated and that Kearsley was remorseful and unlikely to reoffend. In transcripts of phone calls recorded by the victim, the court heard Kearsley begging her not to report him. “Can you forgive me for what has happened?” Kearsley asked. “And, and if this were reported I mean, obviously I guess my career would be, would be finished.” 

In handing down the sentence, Judge Hock said Kearsley had robbed his victim of her confidence and self-worth. He will be eligible for parole in November 2018.

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