07 Oct 2021
A tribunal has found a medical practitioner engaged in professional misconduct by communicating to make a child amenable to sexual activity.
On 11 September 2019, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) was notified by South Australia Police that Dr Pradeep Balasubramanian was charged with two counts of a criminal offence. At the time, Dr Balasubramanian was working on a Temporary Work (Skilled) sub class 457 visa as a trainee medical officer in Mount Gambier.
The Board immediately commenced an investigation on 12 September 2019 and Dr Balasubramanian’s registration was suspended when the Board took immediate action on 23 September 2019.
Dr Balasubramanian had a profile on an internet chat site and followed a number of hashtags, including #SouthAustralianTeens and #AdelaideTeens. It was alleged he initiated and engaged in a private conversation with a covert police officer on a social media platform between 5 September and 11 September 2019. He sent the covert police officer a pornographic video to which she replied that she was a 13-year old virgin. Dr Balasubramanian continued to communicate with the undercover police officer in an overly sexualised way and arranged a time and place to teach her about sex. He sent her further pornographic material and pictures of himself. His communications revealed he knew that what he was doing was illegal.
On 4 December 2019, Dr Balasubramanian’s temporary work visa was cancelled and he was taken into immigration detention on 9 January 2020. On 3 February 2020, his bail was revoked and he was remanded in custody.
On 23 March 2020, Dr Balasubramanian plead guilty in the District Court of South Australia and was convicted on 15 May 2020 of communicating to make a child amenable to sexual activity. On 9 June 2020, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six months and five days. The sentence was backdated to commence on 3 February 2020.
The matter was heard by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) on 24 August 2021.
The tribunal noted that although the conduct did not take place in the course of his line of work, Dr Balasubramanian clearly thought he was grooming a minor for sex which is completely incompatible with the standards expected of a medical practitioner.
‘It is inconsistent with the respondent being a fit and proper person to practise medicine. It brings the medical profession into disrepute and is detrimental to the reputation of the medical profession and otherwise reduces the confidence of the public in the medical profession.’
In addition to a finding of professional misconduct, the tribunal imposed a reprimand and cancelled Dr Balasubramanian’s registration. He was disqualified from applying for re-registration as a registered health practitioner for a period of seven years; and from providing any health service for a period of seven years.
Dr Balasubramanian is currently resident outside of Australia.
The tribunal’s decision was published on the AustLII website on 27 September 2021.