A HAMPSHIRE osteopath who repeatedly exploited a vulnerable patient and told her she was going to be his “personal slave” when he moved her into his home has been struck off, the Daily Echo can reveal.
Anthony Agius “manipulated and abused” his female patient, who was desperate to lose weight, with his controlling behaviour and sexual misconduct, a tribunal ruled.
She believed she would lose two stone in two weeks, the panel was told.
Agius, 41, who worked at City Healing, in Bitterne, Southampton, was found guilty of a catalogue of allegations made against him by the 31-year-old patient, which included failing to leave the room when she undressed during a consultation and sucking the end of the colonic irrigation tube before inserting it.
The General Osteopathic Council ruled that his “deplorable” behaviour, which happened over the course of six weeks, was a “serious and deliberate abuse of his position” and ordered he be struck off as he posed a risk to other patients.
During a six-day hearing, which Agius did not attend and had tried to have adjourned due to suffering from “anxiety-depressive disorder”, the Professional Conduct Committee heard allegations of how he exploited t h e patient for his own gratification – all of which he denied.
The panel heard evidence from the patient, who cannot be named for legal reasons but was referred to as Patient A, who said Agius was “abrupt and scary” when he wanted to know why she hadn’t removed her slip during a treatment.
He also failed to offer a chaperone for the woman while she was having a colonic irrigation and she was left “shocked and gobsmacked”
when he made a vile suggestion to her to “cure her fluctuating hormones”.
When told that Agius had accused her of making up the incident regarding the sucking of the irrigation tube before using it, she said: “I wouldn’t be able to think that up. It was disgusting.”
In her evidence, Patient A said: “At the time I would have tried anything because I was desperate to get better.
“I was excited at the prospect of losing two stone in two weeks.”
The tribunal heard that he invited the woman to live at his home, where she stayed for ten days, as part of a “residential programme” and he told her she would be his “personal slave”.
During that time he invited her into his bed while she was in her nightgown.
The hearing was told that during a trip to London together, he booked one hotel room for them both with a double bed and told Patient A that she would be his “personal assistant” during the visit.
But while they were away the woman described how he went “berserk” when she accidentally switched off the fridge in the hotel room and on the journey back she said he starting talking about sex, describing his behaviour as “weird” and “mental”.
In further evidence given by Patient A, who made clear that no actual sexual contact occurred, she said: “I kept doing what he told me to do because I kept thinking that I couldn’t afford to go to an actual boot camp, which costs around £1,000, and I couldn’t afford to pay for the colonics that Mr Agius was giving me, as they cost £50 each, so I kept telling myself he’s a bit weird but it’s okay.
“He was almost acting like he owned me and I didn’t have a say. I felt angry at the way he was making me feel, he was too controlling but I didn’t feel I could say anything to him.”
The tribunal also heard how Agius allowed students he was teaching to crack Patient A’s neck and twist her knee while she was acting as a model, and failed to get her consent for such treatments to be carried out.
The tribunal ruled that the woman was an “anxious and vulnerable patient” who shared with Agius her “longstanding and deep desire to lose weight”.
The committee ruled: “By his actions, the registrant put her in a position of dependency in the knowledge that her desire to lose weight was so overwhelming that she was prepared to submit to the residential programme and its implications.
“He did not treat Patient A with respect; he abused her physically and verbally, invited her into his bedroom and conducted inappropriate sexualised conversations with her.”
Finding 52 out of the 54 allegations proved against Agius, the tribunal ordered for him to be struck off as he had shown no regret or remorse, posing a “real risk of repetition”.
Peter Laurence, manager of City Healing, said Mr Agius had now resigned from the clinic.