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A still-practicing physician from Ontario has been ordered to pay nearly $700,000 in connection with a sexual assault for which he was found responsible last year. The Sarnia doctor was found liable in civil court of the 1999 sexual assault of a former colleague and friend and ordered to pay her $200,000 in damages. The doctor has also been ordered to pay prejudgment interest to the tune of more than $155,000, court costs of $325,000 and $15,000 in fees pertaining to his appeal.
The doctor was not charged criminally for the incident since the victim did not notify police at the time. The defendant told the court that both he and his colleague were married to others at the time and involved in an affair — an assertion the woman, who is also a doctor, denied. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is currently conducting its own investigation since the doctor is still practicing medicine despite the civil court judgment.
The physician appealed the compensation amount, asserting that the most he should have to pay is $50,000 because it was a one-time incident and there was no psychological harm to his former colleague and friend. But the judge’s decision stood in regard to what he described as a morally reprehensible act. The fact that the doctor was not charged criminally was also a determining factor.
Being found guilty of sexual assault in Ontario could have widespread negative ramifications. In this case, although the defendant was not charged criminally and thus was not found guilty of anything, he was still found liable in civil court and ordered to pay compensation. Those charged criminally may face jail time and other severe penalties if convicted. Even if they avoid a conviction, they could face (as here) substantial claims for monetary damages in civil court. Nevertheless, a criminal accusation is a far cry from a conviction, and anyone so accused has the right to retain legal counsel to mount the most aggressive defence possible.