Optometrist erased from GOC register

A Southall optometrist who sexually assaulted a 17-year-old and a young mother in his consulting room has been sanctioned by the General Optical Council

GOC sign

The General Optical Council (GOC) has removed Southall-based optometrist, Harj Sethi, 35, from its register.

The optical regulator found Mr Sethi’s fitness to practise impaired after he received two convictions for sexual assault at Reading Crown Court in September 2016.

According to the court transcript referred to in the fitness to practise decision, Mr Sethi assaulted two women on separate occasions in 2014 while alone with them in his consulting room.

In the first case, Mr Sethi touched the hip, thigh and lower back of a 17-year-old patient repeatedly during a 15-minute eye examination. 

On another occasion, Mr Sethi touched the breast of a young mother who had her young child with her during the eye examination. He also moved her tracksuit bottoms to look down them.

Mr Sethi received an eight-month suspended prison sentence following his conviction on both charges of assault.

GOC fitness to practise committee chair, Eileen Carr, highlighted that the offences were a serious departure from proper professional standards, abused his position of trust and involved offences of a sexual nature.

“Any lesser sanction than erasure would not meet the needs of public protection and would serve to undermine the trust and confidence in which the public hold the profession,” she emphasised.

Mr Sethi has until 28 November to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.