GP Michael Rusling hit the headlines after being accused of having an affair with patients.

His estranged wife Stephanie Rusling contacted our publicist Jonathan Hartley for help with dealing with the media.

Jonathan set up a deal with the Daily Mail newspaper in which Stephanie was also able to tell her side of the story and how it had affected her life.

Stephanie was also able to promote her patient abuse website which she set up after the affairs emerged.

Jonathan is continuing to represent Stephanie.

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Wife's verdict on GP accused of seducing patients: I worshipped my husband - now I realise he was a complete stranger

They say every picture tells a story: well, the happy family studio photograph hanging over the fireplace in Stephanie Rusling's home speaks of the cruellest of deceptions.

Flanked by his blonde wife and photogenic children, charismatic Dr Michael Rusling looks every inch the respectable GP and devoted family man.

'It's an illusion. The man you see in that picture, the man I thought was my soulmate, just doesn't exist,' says 37-year-old Stephanie, his now ex-wife. 

Distress: Stephanie is trying to rebuild her life after discovering her husband had sex with at least one patient

'He was like an actor, projecting an image of the caring family doctor, when in real life he was a completely different person  -  and the worst part is, I had no idea.'

Last week Dr Rusling, 48, appeared before a General Medical Council tribunal in Manchester accused of having sex with three women in his consulting rooms at a practice in Hull, where he worked from 2002 to March 2007.

One was an administrative colleague, whom we must call Miss C; the other two, the GMC was told, were vulnerable female patients.

Dr Rusling admits having a consensual sexual relationship with one of the patients as well as his colleague, but denies any sexual contact with the other patient, who has now withdrawn her allegations.

If found guilty by the GMC of abusing his professional position and bringing the medical profession into disrepute, Dr Rusling could be struck off. 'I hope he is struck off. How could anyone trust him after this?' says his ex-wife Stephanie, who divorced Dr Rusling in 2007 after he was first reported to the GMC.

She now lives alone in the family home in Beverley, East Yorkshire, with the couple's three children, six-year-old twins Georgina and Matthew, and William, three.

'Reading the witness statements of those two patients when they first emerged two years ago was so harrowing it felt like a bomb had gone off in my life,' she says. 'I realised I no longer knew this man and filed for divorce. He has destroyed my life and that of my children.'

Indeed, the evidence heard by the GMC last week would be too much for any wife to stomach.


In happier times: With Michael on their wedding day

Patient A, a grandmother in her late 50s with whom Dr Rusling admits to having a consensual affair, told the hearing last week of the 'buzz' she felt at having sex with him in the surgery while her unsuspecting husband sat in the waiting room outside.

She told the GMC how her affair with Dr Rusling started in September 2006 when she undid her trousers in the surgery to show him a lump on her stomach and he moved his hand inside her underwear.

Claiming she had been 'dead from the neck down about sex' until she met Dr Rusling, she told how on one occasion the GP used his stethoscope to check for a chest infection while he took off his 'kit' with his other hand.

The fallout of their illicit liaisons was catastrophic, she said.

'It's been disastrous, totally, totally disastrous. My husband's divorcing me and my daughter won't speak to me.'

The GMC also heard from another patient, known only as Patient B, a married mother-of-one in her late 30s with a 'long, tortured history' of psychiatric problems. She sobbed as she accused Dr Rusling of withholding her medication unless she agreed to have sex with him.

She described how Dr Rusling would compliment her on her surgically enhanced breasts and told her 'I can help you feel sexy' when she went to him suffering from severe depression and insomnia.

The woman claimed that at only her second appointment in 2004 he started fondling her, after locking her in his consultation room, putting his hands down her bra, or up her skirt, and ignoring her efforts to push his hands away.

'There was always some kind of sexual contact,' she said. 'If I said "No" or refused to see Dr Rusling, or I didn't answer my phone when it became the time to collect my repeat prescription, it wouldn't be there, and there would be a note on my file telling me I had to see Dr Rusling.'

Last week Dr Rusling denied withholding Patient B's medication and also rejected her claims that they had sexual contact. These charges have now been dropped, after Patient B withdrew her allegations after giving evidence.

For Dr Rusling's ex-wife Stephanie, the worst part of this whole scandal is that he was indulging in these alleged affairs at a time when she was at her most vulnerable, battling post-natal depression following the birth of her children and a back injury that left her on crutches.

Stephanie, a former manager of a large healthcare company, was aware that her 'perfect partner' was becoming more distant.

But, she says, whenever she asked him if he was seeing another woman  -  having grown suspicious about his long working hours and a series of mysterious phone calls  -  he flatly denied it, leaving her feeling paranoid and even guilty for doubting him. 'Mike was, and still is, an authoritative, confident character. 

'He has a fierce intellect,' says Stephanie, the privately-educated daughter of a college lecturer and a nurse.

She can see now that there were warning signs from the very start, but she was so bowled over that she chose to ignore them.

When she met the GP at a medical conference in 1999, he was already married and had two sons aged eight and four. Yet he insisted this marriage was on the rocks and that he was on the point of separating from his wife.

After that first encounter, Dr Rusling pursued Stephanie relentlessly. Flattered and enthralled, Stephanie, then a 27-year-old divorcee and ambitious career girl, fell head over heels in love.

Dr Rusling, having left his wife within weeks of meeting Stephanie, moved from Aberdeen, where he had been living, to her home town of Hull, just after New Year 2000. They married 12 months later, after he presented Stephanie 'with the biggest diamond ring I'd ever seen'.

'At first, we were incredibly happy. We never argued and Mike had a manner about him that made you feel you were in safe hands,' says Stephanie, who still lives in the 600,000 farmhouse they bought together.

The first cracks, however, were quick to appear when Stephanie decided in 2001 that she wanted a family and, because of complications, they needed IVF treatment. This is when, she says, he started to change, treating her 'more like a patient than a wife' and staying at work for longer.

'I started to get phone calls at home, usually silent, and sometimes a woman would say "Is Mike there?" then put the phone down,' says Stephanie. 'When I asked Mike who it might be, he'd say: "It could be anyone. It's probably some drugs firm rep trying to get hold of me."

'When I asked "Is there a woman you are seeing?" he flatly denied it.

'Another time, I was waiting in the car for him when his mobile phone, which he'd left in the footwell, bleeped with a text message. It read: "Hi sexy Scorpio, how are you?" It was signed with a woman's name.

'When he returned to the car, I asked who she was,' recalls Stephanie, who was five months pregnant with their twins at the time. 'He said he had no idea. He even had the gall to call the woman in front of me, asking her how she had got his number and telling her not to call him again.'

The twins were born by Caesarean section on Valentine's Day 2003, but their arrival heralded little joy in the Rusling household.

Exhausted, sleep-deprived and on crutches, Stephanie struggled to breastfeed her babies. When she gave up on the advice of her GP, bottle-feeding them instead, she claims her husband disapproved and 'then started to blame me for every infection the twins got'.

Feeling lonely, isolated and barely able to cope, Stephanie was diagnosed with severe post-natal depression and was treated by her GP and a community psychiatric nurse.

'I felt Mike was becoming very clinical and scientific with me, acting more like a doctor than a husband, when all I really wanted was for him to give me a cuddle,' she says.

Unknown to Stephanie, her husband  -  while still having a sexual relationship with his wife  -  was also seeking comfort elsewhere. He was, it emerged at the tribunal last week, crying on the shoulder of his female colleague, Miss C, about how unhappy he was at home.

'Because things were so strained at home, I did wonder if my marriage was under threat,' admits Stephanie. 'Then I discovered I was pregnant again. It came as a complete shock because it happened naturally, and I thought we couldn't conceive without IVF.'

Not long after their son William was born in September 2005, however, the bombshell dropped. Stephanie received an anonymous letter saying her husband was having an affair at work. When she tearfully confronted him, he denied it.

'I was struggling to cope with three little children, and this almost sent me over the edge,' says Stephanie. One day she snapped, slapping her husband during one of their rows.

'He immediately went to the police and had me arrested. I was in the garden with my baby and the twins, who screamed as I was taken away in a police car. I stayed in a cold cell for eight hours and was given a caution. Our children were traumatised.'

Then, in late 2006, Stephanie found photographs on her husband's camera of an attractive new female GP he was training at the Sydenham House Group Practice where he worked.

Convinced this must be the woman referred to in the anonymous letter about her husband's infidelity, Stephanie wrote to the woman to ask if she was having an affair with her husband. In the female doctor's absence, the letter was opened by staff at the practice, and after the contents were read, an emergency meeting was called by Dr Rusling's partners.

When he was challenged, Dr Rusling said he was not having an affair with the female doctor, but admitted to his affair with another colleague  -  Miss C  -  which he said was now over.

Indeed, Miss C had ended her affair with Dr Rusling abruptly, after discovering Stephanie was pregnant again, accusing him of lying over the moribund state of his marriage.

The partners in the practice finally asked Dr Rusling to resign just before Christmas 2006, after Miss C  -  a mother-of-two  -  complained that Dr Rusling was pestering her, making unwanted phone calls to her and brushing up against her in the communal kitchen in an attempt to rekindle their affair.

He denied harassing Miss C, but it was mutually agreed he would leave after working a three-month notice period. When asked by one of the practice partners if he'd had any sexual contact with patients, he vehemently denied any improper conduct.

At home, these dramatic developments spelled disaster for Stephanie's marriage.

'Mike blamed me for his being asked to resign,' she says bitterly. 'He said that if I'd never sent that letter to the woman at his work, he wouldn't have been asked to leave. But otherwise he didn't seem that bothered or angry at all. It was almost as if he had been expecting it.'

Tensions reached fever pitch when, in February 2007, Stephanie had another furious row with her husband over how much support he was giving her at home.

She grabbed his medical bag from his car in an attempt to stop him leaving for work, at which point he allegedly pushed Stephanie to the ground. He was later cautioned by police.

A few days later, Stephanie was admitted to hospital for an unrelated, pre-arranged operation to repair stomach muscles stretched by childbirth. Later, she would discover that while she lay alone in bed recovering, her husband was at the bedside of his lover, Patient A, who coincidentally had been admitted to the same hospital at the same time.

'A nurse had to go and find him,' says Stephanie bitterly. 'He was comforting her instead of me.'

Dr Rusling left Sydenham House on March 31, 2007, to take up a new position as a GP elsewhere.

On learning of his departure, Patient B collapsed crying and shaking in the surgery, and branded Dr Rusling 'a pervert' in front of a receptionist.

At that point, another doctor was called to see Patient B and was so shocked by her allegations against Dr Rusling that she advised her to go to the police.

Surgery staff subsequently found a box of condoms hidden in the back of a drawer of Dr Rusling's desk, apparently for his private use (they were of a different brand to those supplied by the surgery for family planning).

As a result of Patient B's complaint, Dr Rusling was arrested on suspicion of rape, false imprisonment and withholding medication, but no charges were brought, through lack of reliable evidence. Patient B has now withdrawn her allegations.

Today, despite her humiliation and distress, his ex-wife is picking up the pieces of her life and has returned to work as a healthcare manager.

She says she has gradually returned to being the confident, independent woman she was before her disastrous marriage to Dr Rusling.

As a result of her experiences, she is determined to use them to help others and is launching a website,, aimed at vulnerable people who might feel at risk of, or are suffering, abuse by medical professionals.

'I have endured some terrible times and I feel there are more to come,' says Stephanie, 'but I want to be able to protect my children and perhaps ensure that this doesn't happen to anyone else.

'For years, I worshipped the ground my husband walked on because I loved him, but now I realise he was a complete stranger to me. I don't hate him  -  how can you hate someone you never really knew?'

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