A Wollongong psychologist who once specialised in the treatment of sex offenders has been banned from practising for at least three years due to his own sexual misconduct.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal this week found that Daniel Rouse-Stanton's conduct - having sex with one patient and giving another a massage while she was topless - constituted professional misconduct and was "predatory in nature".
The tribunal heard Mr Rouse-Stanton, 42, had worked with the Department of Corrective Services as a psychologist for 10 years, before entering private practice in Wollongong in 2014. He was also running a massage business.
In September 2014, he exchanged a number of sexualised text and Facebook messages with one patient, who had disclosed to him her marital difficulties and alcohol dependence.
On September 28 - during the third psychology session - Mr Rouse-Stanton instigated an unplanned massage, while the patient was partially unclad and her breasts were exposed.
He then sent texts to the patient proposing a "sensuous and indulgent" massage at her home or another "quiet" place, offering feathers, scented oils and silk for the "most deeply satisfying and blissful night".
Following a complaint by the patient, the Psychology Council investigated, however no conditions were imposed on Mr Rouse-Stanton's psychology practice after he said he would no longer conduct massage.
This week's tribunal heard that the council had had no access to the text messages at the time, and was reliant on Mr Rouse-Stanton's "self-serving" account of what happened.
However another complaint was made against Mr Rouse-Stanton by a patient in March 2016, after he engaged in a series of sexualised text messages with her before visiting her in her home for a pre-arranged sexual encounter.
When the patient - who had initially consulted him about depression and domestic abuse - later text him to say she felt unhappy about the incident, he tried to dissuade her from making a complaint by referencing his own mental health issues.
Two days after the encounter, Mr Rouse-Stanton went to his GP and was admitted to Shellharbour Hospital, and subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In May 2016, Mr Rouse-Stanton was banned from practising by the Psychology Council and in February 2017, his registration lapsed.
At this week's tribunal it was noted that his registration would have been cancelled, if it was current, and he was prohibited from applying to re-register for at least three years.
He was also prohibited from providing any health services, although the tribunal determined that the prohibition order didn't apply to his current job in a gym as a personal trainer - where no form of massage was offered.
The tribunal took note of evidence submitted by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), including a peer expert report provided by Dr Timothy Keogh.
With regards to the first complaint, Dr Keogh stated: "Asking a psychologically vulnerable person to remove her bra during a psychological consultation who had difficulties of the type that (the patient) presented represents a serious lack of care and respect for her, and a serious lack of clinical judgement".
In regards to the second complaint, Dr Koegh found that Mr Rouse-Stanton had "abused the power imbalance inherent in the therapeutic relationship".
Dr Keogh said Mr Rouse-Stanton's expertise in assessing and treating sex offenders, made it more likely he would be aware of these issues.
"The conduct of having sex with a patient whom one is currently treating is clearly prohibited in the code and represents one of the most potentially damaging things a psychologist could do to a client, whose welfare ought to have been the psychologist's clear priority."
However a report by Dr Peter Whetton, who conducted an independent medical examination of Mr Rouse-Stanton, gave the opinion that he presented as a "significantly unwell man warranting the diagnosis of bipolar disorder".
Dr Whetton said this was "highly likely to have affected" his conduct in that "his judgement would be lacking, impulsive behaviour may be part of his disorder".
Mr Rouse-Stanton told the tribunal he had not engaged in a massage on a professional or paid basis since October 2014, and had dissolved the company through which he had conducted that business, Integrative Mind-Body Solutions.
Further, Mr Rouse-Stanton's Counsel said he had co-operated fully and made appropriate concessions before the tribunal, which should be taken as evidence of his contrition.
However the tribunal found that that his conduct was "calculated, pre-meditated and predatory" and that his diagnosed mental health condition did not mitigate the seriousness of his misconduct.