Background Checking

Perth radiologist has registration cancelled after revelations he is facing sex assault charges in US

Source –  ABC News
Date – 24 March 2016

A radiologist who has been working in Australia for five years has had his medical registration cancelled after it was revealed he is facing sex offence charges in the United States.

In 2004, Dr Max Mehta was charged in Texas over allegations he groomed a 15-year-old deaf girl for sex online.

It is alleged he attempted to meet the young girl at a pre-arranged location, with condoms in his possession, but was instead met by a police officer and charged with the criminal solicitation of a minor to commit sexual assault of a child.

It is believed Dr Mehta then skipped bail of $US100,000 and travelled to New Zealand before he could face court.

Two years later, he changed his name to Robert Taylor before moving to Australia where he had been working until his medical licence was suspended last year.

During that time, he submitted four separate applications to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) denying his criminal history.

The Medical Board of Australia has now successfully had Dr Taylor’s registration cancelled and disqualified him from applying for medical registration for two years.

In handing down its decision, the State Administrative Tribunal of WA noted that he either knew or ought to have known the criminal history he was concealing involved “alleged conduct that was likely to raise concerns about the safety of minor of female patients” and “likely to bring the profession of medicine into disrepute”.

The case has raised serious questions about background checks for foreign doctors and why authorities took so long to act.

7.30 has obtained documents showing AHPRA was aware of the issue in March 2013 but renewed his registration two months later and he continued to practice for another two years.

AHPRA declined 7.30’s request for an interview but in a statement said the matter which saw Dr Taylor’s registration cancelled related to a notification it received in August 2014.

In response to 7.30’s questions about why it took the regulator so long to act, a spokeswoman said they could only do so with sufficient information and once such information was available, the Medical Board took action.

Ross Jones, a former colleague of Dr Taylor, is calling for the system to be overhauled.

“The background checks are bloody awful, they’re inadequate,” Mr Jones told 7.30.

“There is no stringent background checks at all.

“For example if you do not have a letter of good standing from the college which held jurisdiction over where you work, then you have the ability to supply a statutory declaration to say ‘yes, I’m in good standing’.

“For the most part, none of those are checked.

“They do a sample (but) you have to do it for every one.

“These people have control over your children, that should not occur, everyone should be checked.”

As of last year, AHPRA strengthened its background checks for foreign doctors to bring them in line with those trained in Australia, but those new measures do not apply retrospectively.

Another former colleague, Dr Rauf Yousaf wants that changed.

“I think that the case with Robert Taylor and many others that have come up over the years, makes it quite clear that the checks and balances that were in place were inadequate,” he said.

“And I’d really like to know what the medical board proposes to do to close those loopholes that are still there and would allow criminals to be in our country that shouldn’t be.”

He believes the regulator has failed.

Dr Yousaf is calling for Dr Taylor to be extradited to the US but 7.30 understands the US government is still in the process of issuing an international arrest warrant.

7.30 attempted to contact Dr Taylor on numerous occasions for comment but was unsuccessful.

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