A physiotherapist who claimed his penis ‘fell out’ of his Y-fronts
when he was instructing a student has been thrown out of the profession.
Andrew Gardner asked the 21-year-old about her personal life and suggested they go on holiday together, the Health and Care Professions Council heard.
He also quizzed a colleague about about her sex life with her husband, asking: ‘Do you use a vibrator because he is crap in bed?’
An HCPC panel found his actions with regard to exposure, touching a student during treatment and asking a colleague about her sex life were sexually motivated.
Gardner exposed himself to the student when she was on a placement at Queen Victoria Hospital, Morecambe, Lancashire in May 2013.
He began demonstrating techniques to the woman, referred to as Student A, but had intentionally worn loose-fitting underwear to expose his penis to her.
She said: ‘He was wearing loose fitting underwear, where he would have a hole in the front of the underwear.
‘I just lifted his leg up and, as I placed it back down, I noticed his underwear was gaping open and his penis was exposed.
‘I was just shocked, I was uncomfortable, I didn’t really know what to.
‘I just feel like you would be aware, knowing that type of underwear that he had on. It would be easy for him to expose himself.’
Asked how long Gardner exposed himself, the student said: ‘I couldn’t say exactly, maybe 30 seconds.
‘I carried on the treatment, but he adjusted himself.
‘I think I just looked awkward and uncomfortable. I was just trying not to look at that area.
‘I wanted to end the treatment and get out of the room. I didn’t want to continue treating him, but I was hoping it might be a one-off event.’
On one occasion, Gardner made a ‘sexual-type noise’ as she was using a ‘trigger point technique’ on him and another touched her buttocks when she was treating him in the same way.
‘I had just done the side of Mr Gardner’s leg, it was always in the same place, around the thigh area.
‘I would be putting some pressure on with my elbow then I felt his hand on my buttocks. It was almost as if he was holding on.
‘I couldn’t say for sure [how long he held on for]. It just felt like it was a long time. It could have been because I was shocked about the situation it seemed like a long time.’
Gardner began to ask her whether she had a boyfriend and then asking her why not.
She said: ‘I didn’t want to be having that conversation with him, I didn’t particularly know him.’
The woman said that when she mentioned she was visiting her parents who lived in Spain: ‘He said that he was going to Spain as well and should he come and visit me.
‘He said: “I’m going to Malaga as well, maybe I should just come there and meet you at the airport.” He seemed to me quite serious.’
Asked if the conversation was ‘jokey’ she said: ‘No, not to me.’
Gardner admitted it was possible his penis may have accidentally fallen out of his Y-fronts, but denied wearing loose-fitting underwear.
‘I’m aware that loose-fitting underwear could make exposure more possible. I wore more conservative underwear, Y-fronts.’
He said he wore what he felt was ‘appropriate clothing’ for a treatment session.
But the panel concluded that Gardner ‘had decided to wear loose fitting underwear which he would have known as an experienced physiotherapist could expose his penis.’
Panel chair Janet Everitt said: ‘We found the registrant intentionally left his penis exposed for a period of time in order to obtain sexual gratification.’
As to touching Student in treatment Gardner admitted hethat ‘wasn’t aware at the time that I was doing that [touching Student A], but I think it’s highly possible that I did.’
He added: ‘There’s not much one can do about a reflex action in response to pain.’
But the panel found that Gardner’s repeated touching of the student was ‘avoidable’ and sexually motivated.
Ms Everitt said: ‘There is a significant imbalance of power between a first-year university student on her first practical placement and a band 7 physiotherapist who was originally meant to be her clinical educator.
‘She was therefore in a position of some vulnerability.
‘He took advantage of an imbalance of power between him and Student A, as well as of her vulnerability.
‘Such behaviour was a breach of trust in that he was fundamentally in the role of teacher.’
Gardner also asked a colleague inappropriate questions about her sex life ‘out of the blue’, asking if she used a vibrator with her husband because he was ‘crap in bed’.
Ms Everitt said: ‘Her evidence was that he moved extremely close to her, and straddled either side of her chair with his legs, with his body leaning forward, although not touching her.
‘Out of the blue, he asked her if she had a vibrator in a low whispering tone.’
Gardner accepted he ‘engaged in adult banter in the staff room’ and the panel found he ‘played a significant role in setting the “adult” culture in the department.’
He was also found to have behaved in an ‘intimidating’ manner towards the colleague who conducted his Annual Development Review (ADR) meeting in July 2011.
He said he was ‘frustrated’ at the lack of funds and study leave for professional development and also comments made to him in the staff room ‘which made him feel that staff were against him.’
The panel found that Gardner had raised his voice, stood over the colleague and pressured her to write a document he dictated, but found the charge that he spoke in an ‘aggressive manner’ not proved.
Ms Everitt said: ‘In relation to Colleague C, although this was a single isolated incident which pre-dated the sexual motivation allegations by almost two years, it nevertheless is another example of intimidating behaviour.’
Gardner said in a statement read to the panel: ‘I offer a very deep and unreserved heartfelt apology to me colleagues regarding any lapses perceived or otherwise.’
He said he was ‘truly disappointed’ in himself.
Last July the panel made a nine-month interim conditions of practice order ‘for the protection of the public’ and banned him from working with female colleagues without a chaperone.
Ms Everitt added: ‘We found there was an ongoing and unacceptable risk that the sexual misconduct could be repeated.’
The panel concluded that they were ‘not satisfied that [further] conditions of practice would be appropriate given the serious nature of the sexually motivated conduct.’
Ordering Gardner should be struck off the HCPC register Ms Everitt said he had ‘demonstrated an inability to resolve or remedy his sexually motivated conduct’.
He has 28 days to appeal against the decision.