A South Coast doctor who indulged his shoe fetish with a prescription drug-dependent patient has been spared a full-time jail sentence.
Cedric Schmaman, 61, admits to indecently assaulting a woman under his care at Bermagui Medical Centre in January last year.
The woman had an illicit drug history and had became dependent on pain medication after she was injured in a road accident.
She turned to Schmaman after numerous other South Coast doctors refused to write her scripts.
Court documents reveal Schmaman requested his victim wear high heels or boots to her appointments, and led her to believe her supply of medication would be cut off otherwise.
Schmaman, who has since been diagnosed with a shoe fetish, later claimed the woman manipulated his underlying psychological issues.
Considering the case at Wollongong District Court on Monday, Judge Andrew Haesler noted the woman and the “emotionally vulnerable” doctor grew dependent upon one another.
“Every other doctor on the South Coast had read the warning signs as far as [the victim] was concerned. She was addicted to pain killers and desperate to obtain pain killers,” he said.
“He exploited her vulnerability for his own ends and she was able to get from him what she couldn’t get from anyone else, so there was a situation of mutual dependence.”
After several consultations, Schmaman began sitting too close to the woman and touching her leg. He gave her his mobile phone number and more than $1500 in cash. He hugged her, and told her he loved her. He once placed a $50 note down her shirt. He went to kiss her but she would turn her head away.
Schmaman was administering an injection in the woman’s buttock in January last year when he interfered with her clothing – a corset – and touched her intimately. The woman reported the assault to her partner and later to police.
Subsequent covert recordings between the pair formed part of the Crown case.
Arguing for a full-time custodial sentence, the Crown said Schmaman had committed a gross breach of trust and shown more sympathy for himself than his victim in subsequent “self-serving” admissions.
However the judge found the recordings also reflected the doctor’s empathy. He had told the woman, “I wasn’t listening carefully enough; I apologise”.
“I’m prepared to accept his remorse and regret,” the judge said.
“It’s clear to me that he still feels that he was manipulated. He may well have been, but he should have … not succumbed, and that is his downfall.”
The doctor was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment, to be suspended on condition of good behavior.