A Canadian doctor has been sentenced to ten years in prison for sexual assaults on a string of woman as they waited for surgery. Dr. George Doodnaught, 65, who was an anesthesiologist at North York General Hospital in Toronto has been convicted of molesting 21 women. The convictions are for sexual assaults such as kissing and fondling the women, even forcing them to perform oral sex on him.
His victims were in court, but cannot be identified due to a privacy order, to see the doctor led away in handcuffs. Many cheered as he left the court room. His victims describe him as a “coward” who refused to face them and acknowledge the harm he had done to them. The victims also complained that the sentencing was too lenient, but 10 years was the maximum the law currently allows for, despite the fact that the prosecution has asked for a significantly longer term. Dr Doodnaught’s lawyers intent to appeal the convictions, which were for crimes committed over a four-year period.
Ontario Superior Court Justice David McCombs told Doodnaught that he had violated the high level of trust placed in medical professionals by the general public, and that he had betrayed his colleagues, his hospital, and his community by carrying out the sexual assaults. Several of the Dr’s victims were in court to read victim impact statements that listed their feelings of bitterness, shame, and mistrust that would now have to live with for the rest of their lives. They potentially face a repeat of the court experience when the doctor appeals, but vowed, on behalf of their families, that they would turn up every day to see justice done. The victims hopes being that the appeal court will once again sentenced the doctor for ten years for the sexual assaults.
One of the most disturbing parts of the case was that the doctor would claim that the victims initiated sexual contact as they awoke from their anesthetized state. Even before the complaints that sparked the investigation into his activities Dr Doodnaught was known for being touchy-feely with his patients, and when they were “alone” behind a surgical drape it raised no suspicions. However, it was during these periods, while inside the operating theatre that the sexual assaults would take place.
The evidence presented in court suggested the doctors behaviour was becoming ever more extreme, because in the first six cases of complaint the attacks happened over more than a three years period. However, the last 15 attacks were reported over a period of six months. The hospital in question has since vowed to improve its complaint monitoring service, and act more quickly against complaints. The hospital stands accused of dragging its feet in dealing with the complaints, although it has been acknowledged that for assaults to take place under these circumstances are unique in Canadian history.
The Canadian College of Physicians and Surgeons have yet to strike off the doctor, as they are waiting for the completion of legal proceedings.
The victims of the Doctor’s attacks range from 25 to 75, and are all pleased that this doctor has been sentenced to 10 years for his sexual assaults.
By Andrew Willig