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Sex abuse royal commission: Royal North Shore Hospital psychologist abused patient.

May 12, 2015 ·  By Rachel Browne for (



A psychologist employed by Royal North Shore Hospital was arrested for making death threats two years after he allegedly sexually assaulted a young patient, according to evidence before a royal commission.

Hospital psychologist Stuart Frank Simpson allegedly molested an 11-year-old patient under the guise of “play therapy” in 1967 but when his family complained to the hospital the following year, they were advised not to tell police.

Terence Kirkpatrick told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he was referred to Simpson for asthma treatment but suffered horrific sexual abuse.

“I recall the absolute fear that I held at home the night before I knew I had an appointment with him and I felt increasingly fearful on the journey there,” he said.

“In the waiting room before I saw Simpson I remember feeling a very deep terror. I was numb with fear.”

In evidence he said he disclosed the abuse to his family in 1968 but when his father alerted Royal North Shore Hospital, he was told not to report the matter to the police.

“They, the Royal North Shore, will take care of it and … it is better not to go to the police because (I) would have to go through the interrogation and all those distressing things,” he said.

Simpson’s police record, tendered in evidence to the commission, shows he was arrested in 1969 on five counts of “maliciously sending threatening letters to kill” and arrested again in 1981 for larceny and forgery. He is now deceased.

The commission was told Simpson’s employment records from Royal North Shore Hospital could not be found.

Mr Kirkpatrick, now 59 and a leading Sydney psychologist, told the commission he believed hospitals provided better protection for children today but better staff training was needed.

“Academic training programs and professional development should include education on appropriate professional boundaries when dealing with children and how to recognise the strategies paedophiles use to groom children,” he said.

“The protection of children is only as good as the vigilance of the staff working with them.”

The commission has previously heard evidence that Royal North Shore Hospital employed paedophile doctor John Rolleston at its emergency department between 1979 and 1983 where he abused a number of adolescent boys.

The chief executive of the Northern Sydney Local Health District, Vicki Taylor, said the Royal North Shore Hospital, “is a very different place these days to what it was in the 1960s and 1970s”.

She told the commission staff underwent rigorous background checks, were told how to manage reports of child sexual abuse and the hospital shared information with other authorities including the police and the Department of Community Services.

Rolleston went on to work at Broken Hill Hospital between 1993 and 1997. Secretary of the NSW Ministry of Health Mary Foley was unable to tell the commission what steps NSW Health took to assess the risk to children in his care at Broken Hill after his 2009 arrest for multiple charges of sexual abuse at Royal North Shore Hospital and in his Sydney practices.

The royal commission’s public hearing is examining the response of health care regulators and providers into allegations of child sexual abuse. The hearing, before Justice Peter McClellan,continues.


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