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ABC News
court reporter Kristian Silva

Geelong doctor Shafiul Milky sentenced to at least 11 years in prison over sexual assaults on patients

Doctor Shafiul Milky will spend at least 11 years behind bars. (Facebook)

The women attended the Peninsula Medical Clinic in Ocean Grove for a variety of reasons.

WARNING: This story contains graphic content that may be distressing to some readers.

One had a sprained ankle. One complained of having a sore back and nerve pain. 

One woman was worried she had a urinary tract infection, while another went to the clinic for a routine pap smear.

But what should have been regular doctor's appointments turned into unwanted sexual encounters with Dr Shafiul Milky, a practitioner with decades of experience.

Exploiting the doctor-patient relationship, Milky used the guise of medical examinations to sexually assault his victims during consultations, sometimes while a nurse in the room had her back turned.

On Thursday, Milky was sentenced to 14 and a half years' jail for two counts of rape, nine counts of sexual assault and four counts of indecent assault, between 2012 and 2019.

Five of Milky's victims were patients from the clinic, while another was visited by the GP when she called the National Home Doctor Service, complaining of a headache and stomach pain.

After Milky committed his first attack in 2012 — by touching the breasts of a woman who had come in with a sprained ankle — his victim complained to police and the medical watchdog, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

But County Court judge Felicity Hampel said the doctor's denials were believed by the clinic's owners, who took no action against him and allowed him to keep practising.

'I just wanted it to stop'

Over the next seven years, Milky assaulted five other patients, including digitally raping one who heard him say "very nice" as he carried out the attack.

When Milky sexually assaulted another woman in her home and tried to kiss her afterwards, he told her: "You're a good girl, you are going to be OK".

The victim later told authorities she felt helpless during the incident.

"I just wanted it to stop, but I didn't know how," she said.

That woman came forward to police in 2019, and when stories about her experiences surfaced in the media, four other victims made statements. Milky was eventually charged by police in 2020.

Earlier this month, Milky was found guilty at a County Court trial, but continues to protest his innocence and denies the allegations against him.

County Court Judge Felicity Hampel described Milky's behaviour as "predatory" and "serious sexual offending".

"You took advantage of your authority as a doctor, the power imbalance in the doctor-patient relationship, and the pretence that what you were doing was part of medically-appropriate examination, to sexually abuse these women for your own sexual gratification," she said.

"Each of them spoke of their disbelief, the dawning realisation that what was happening in the course of the consultation was wrong.

"It is a grave violation of trust."

Milky watched proceedings from prison via a video link, at times covering his face and shaking his head as details of the offending were read out.

The 59-year-old's jail sentence includes a non-parole period of 11 years, meaning he will be in his 70s by the time he is eligible to walk free.

Judge takes aim at medical regulator

The court heard Milky began his career in Bangladesh and came to Australia in 2009 from New Zealand, where he is a citizen.

Judge Hampel said it was likely the father-of-two would be deported back to New Zealand upon completing his sentence.

In sentencing remarks, Judge Hampel also took aim at AHPRA, and the practice owners Dr Santosh Kurien and Dr Emmanual Nnopu over their actions when the first victim came forward in 2012.

"It would appear that AHPRA accepted advice from doctors Kurien and Nnopu that as you had denied the allegations, there was no need to further investigate," she said.

"I am at a loss to understand how that sits with doctors Kurien and Nnopu or AHPRA's legal, social and moral obligations to [the victim] or to any other patient."

Dr Kurien and Dr Nnopu have been contacted for comment.

Following Thursday's sentencing, a spokesperson for AHPRA said it had completed a "thorough investigation" into Milky in 2012, referring the matter to an independent panel.

However that panel found the doctor had no case to answer and, according to VCAT documents, police charges at the time were not authorised due to insufficient evidence.

Milky was eventually suspended from practising in 2019, and is now likely to have his Australian registration cancelled.

"Serious criminal convictions such as these usually lead to a referral to a tribunal in order to seek a cancellation of a practitioner's registration," the AHPRA spokesperson said.

"We recognise that the experience of the victims is likely to have lasting and life-changing impacts."

The spokesperson said AHPRA and its national medical boards had "overhauled processes" to improve the handling of complaints in the past six years, including increasing auditing and creating specialist investigation teams.

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