Psychiatrist-Patient and the Tort of Sexual Harassment

Around July 2019, there were news reports about a psychiatrist in a hospital in Petaling Jaya who sexually harassed his patient – the latter being a rape victim.[1] An article by World Of Buzz contains multiple screenshots of conversations between the psychiatrist and his patient demonstrating that the former sexually harassed the latter.[2]

The hospital received a complaint on the matter and proceeded to suspend the psychiatrist on the 6th of July 2019. Subsequently, the hospital terminated the psychiatrist’s services effective 15th July 2019.[3]

The victim lodged a police report on the 16th of July 2019[4] and after conducting its investigation, the police concluded vide letter dated 13th September 2019 that:

i) there was no substantial evidence to prove the case against the suspect; and

ii) there should be no further action.[5]

Unsurprisingly, netizens were up in arms about the police’s decision. Thankfully, on 18th October 2019, the psychiatrist was charged at the Magistrate’s Court for having insulted the modesty of his patient.[6] The offence, under Section 509 of the Penal Code, carries a maximum punishment of imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or fine, or both.[7]

Notwithstanding the Attorney General’s Chambers’ decision to charge the psychiatrist under the Penal Code, does the patient have any recourse from a civil law perspective?