A Brisbane physiotherapist groped a 21-year-old patient, asked if he’d consider a happy ending, and attempted to fellate him. The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) banned the physiotherapist from registering as a health practitioner for a period of three years.
An Thien Vu treated the patient on four occasions at a Greenslopes practice. Registered as a physiotherapist since 2004, he previously completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy degree at the University of Queensland.
The patient required treatment for a workplace injury to his foot and leg. He said that nothing inappropriate occurred during his first consultation.
However, during his second treatment, Vu repeatedly groped his genitals through his tracksuit, apologising each time. The patient assumed Vu needed to move his genitals to access his groin.
At the third appointment, Vu asked the young man to remove his pants. He kept his underwear on and Vu placed a towel over his genital area. Vu again repeatedly groped the patient. Most times he did this by grabbing through the towel, but sometimes he reached under the towel, occasioning skin to skin contact.
Judge Allen of QCAT characterised the gradually escalating touching as grooming.
“Calculated and protracted… testing the patient’s willingness to submit to such behaviour.”
At his final appointment, the patient again lay on the table in his underwear. However, Vu did not cover him with a towel. Asked if he had ever been overseas, the patient responded that he previously travelled to Europe and Thailand.
Vu asked if he had a massage in Thailand, specifically mentioning a happy ending. He also asked whether the patient would ever consider a massage with a happy ending.
Telling him he was a ‘sexually active and a handsome boy’, Vu began to massage the man’s penis and testicles. He commented that ‘an uncircumcised penis retains more sensation’.
When the patient protested, Vu said, “I just wanted to make sure you were having a good time. I’m being very naughty.”
What’s the biggest penis you have ever seen?
Vu then asked. “What’s the biggest penis you have ever seen?”
He then pulled the patient’s penis out of his underwear and attempted to perform oral sex. Pushing Vu away, the patient climbed off the table, dressed and left.
Described by the practice receptionist as ‘not normal’ when he left the appointment, the patient then described what happened to his mother, a workmate and a psychologist. Within 30 minutes of the patient leaving the practice, his mother rang to complain about Vu’s behaviour. The practice consequently paid for psychological services for the patient.
The patient told the psychologist that while he felt ‘unsure’ about Vu repeatedly touching his penis during the initial consultations, he assumed that things like that might be necessary during physiotherapy. He told himself, “This guy is a doctor, he’s a professional.”
An Thien Vu
The psychologist subsequently made a mandatory notification to the Health Ombudsman.
In correspondence with the practice after the incident, Vu denied behaving inappropriately.
“I leaned over the bed across his body, to get some more massage cream, and accidentally grazed his penis. He was in his underwear. I did stoop a bit too low in doing so which may appear like I’m bending down towards his crotch.”
In correspondence with the Health Ombudsman, Vu also accused the patient of playing with himself during treatment: “touching himself by massaging his genital area with his hand on the outside of the towel.”
Although initially represented at QCAT, Vu eventually ceased engaging with the tribunal. He left Australia on 2 October 2020 and the Tribunal is unaware of his current whereabouts.
The tribunal ruled the patient’s ‘detailed account of increasingly inappropriate conduct’ as cogent and compelling while describing Vu as an ‘unreliable historian’ during an interview with the Health Ombudsman.
The Tribunal banned Vu from applying to renew his now lapsed registration as a health practitioner for a period of three years.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.