INSTEAD of hearing details of the intimate relationship between psychiatrist Ray Berard and patient Sylvia Ireland, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) heard reasons why the hearing should be postponed.
The professional conduct inquiry was expected to go ahead yesterday and today, but Berard’s representative, Graham van der Spuy, instead argued for a postponement to allow for more preparation time.
In July 2008 Ireland wrote to the HPCSA accusing her former psychiatrist of having used her therapy sessions, for more than two years, to have sex.
Her husband Stuart Ireland, a high-profile businessman in the beauty industry, was footing the bill for the sessions.
Stuart Ireland died two years ago while attempting to obtain a divorce, citing her affairs and lavish spending as reasons for the end of the marriage.
Sylvia Ireland said Berard used his position as her psychiatrist and marriage counsellor to prescribe her a number of drugs, blackmail her into having sex, control her marriage, and go into business with her husband.
According to the news magazine Noseweek, Stuart Ireland appointed Berard as a director of his company Prestige Cosmetics while the psychiatrist continued to send erotic SMSes to Sylvia Ireland.
Sylvia Ireland then confessed details of the affair to her husband, prompting Berard to resign as director.
Dressed all in black with a leopard print jacket, Ireland stared straight ahead throughout the hearing at the Belmont Conference Centre in Rondebosch, Cape Town, yesterday, avoiding eye contact with Berard.
According to the charge sheet, Berard was guilty of unprofessional conduct in that, during the period October 2005 until February 2008, he had a doctor-patient relationship with Ireland.
The charge sheet said Berard had “Misused the position of trust and confidence towards your patient by entering into an intimate physical relationship with her and/or having sexual intercourse with her.”
The hearing continues.