A Personal Loss: Part 2 – The Boy and the Wolf

Just over a year ago I posted the first part of this message. My family doctor and psychotherapist told me that he was leaving private practice because of a dispute that he had with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (the College). At the time, he wouldn’t tell me what it was about and I didn’t press him for details. Shortly after my last visit with Glenn (I have changed my doctor’s name to protect his privacy), the Toronto Star published an article detailing one side of the story and characterizing him as a sexual predator. As far as I know, the Toronto Star has never published a more balanced account of what led to my doctor’s ultimate demise as a practicing physician. 

I began seeing Glenn in the early 90s. He had moved from an office in a building to a house on the same street as his personal residence. Right from the start Glenn had this buccaneer attitude of “us vs them”. His enthusiasm for his patients was refreshing. As the years went by, Glenn seemed to gain more interest in psychotherapy than in actual medicine. He always practiced medicine, but it became clear to me that he wanted to deal with psychotherapy much more. His office was a gallery of pictures of his family and artwork given to him by grateful patients. From the front door to the back wall you couldn’t look at a wall without seeing some representation of his immediate family or his extended family. The doors to his office were always open during business hours and it was not uncommon for his kids and his wife to pop in unannounced for one thing or another. Glenn’s office differed from traditional doctor’s offices because he did not have a receptionist or a nurse in attendance. It was just Glenn. When a patient entered his office he would graciously offer them something to drink. The furniture was eclectic, from a couch that should have been replaced years ago to sturdy leather wingback chairs in his office. The ambiance was homey bordering on messy. It was not your usual doctor experience.

A few years ago a female patient accused Glenn of inappropriate sexual conduct. The specific details are really irrelevant. He did not sexually assault her. She never spoke to the police, at least not from public accounts. No criminal charges were laid or ever discussed. Instead she filed a complaint with the College which convened their own kangaroo court. It qualifies as a kangaroo court because none of the constitutional or legal rights and protections guaranteed to everyone under the Canadian Constitution were applied. Her name was never released to the public. The rules of evidence, if indeed they had any rules or guidelines for evidence, were not applied. This tribunal was entirely an in-house matter, although the findings were made public and destroyed a man’s career and reputation. Glenn never enjoyed the presumption of innocence — not with the Toronto Star, nor with the College.

I cannot say that the accusations were false because I have no first-hand knowledge of the incident. I have a clear bias toward Glenn and believe that he is innocent of these accusations. Glenn is a senior citizen and very likely will not make any attempt to refute the accusations or the decision by the College. Pity. He deserves better.

Women and men are subject to sexual harassment all the time in every industry globally. Sadly, this has become all too common. While the issue is tragic, if the accusation of sexual misconduct becomes an irrefutable weapon in our society, it diminishes the impact upon the public’s conscience because we become so used to this siren sounding that when it really happens, when people really are sexually assaulted, raped or molested, we will have become so euthanized that we shrug and sigh because it is just another sexual assault. 

There is an old children’s story about a boy who cried wolf to get attention. At first, every time the boy cried wolf, people came to his rescue only to find out that there was no wolf. The boy was creative, convincing the adults that there really was a wolf, but it had been scared off when it heard people coming to his rescue. The boy continued to cry wolf. Fewer and fewer people came to his rescue. One day, the boy was really confronted by a wolf. He cried. He screamed, but no one came. 

Patient A, Glenn’s mysterious accuser, may have been crying wolf. The only details that were ever made public about her were that she was a troubled woman in a failed marriage who was seeking psychotherapy from Glenn. If he really assaulted her, why didn’t she go to the police? Why didn’t she have him charged under the Criminal Code of Canada? If she had enough evidence to convict him of sexual assault, why not go for the crown, a criminal conviction? I believe this whole story was a demented fabrication of her troubled mind. I don’t believe Glenn made an advance on her. I believe she made the advance on him and when he rejected her advance, she lashed out by accusing him in a non-legal forum where the deck was stacked against Glenn. The world will never know the truth because there were only two people in that office, Glenn and Patient A. 

The Ontario government is not without fault here too. They enacted a law that removed any discretion the College may have had. In matters of sexual misconduct, no matter how minor or rare, the College now has no choice but to revoke a doctor’s license –period.  This really is political correctness gone nuts. Sexual assault is a serious problem in our society. No one should trivialize it, not for a second. At the same time, we should not elevate it to the same level as Hitler’s crimes against humanity. To do so is to so obscure the issue that when a woman (or a man) is crying wolf, making false accusations for political or personal reasons or gain, the real victims of sexual assault sometimes can go unnoticed because the field is so crowded with false accusations. 

The Ontario and Canadian governments need to ban industry tribunals from acting upon matters that ought to be tried in a legitimate court of law. In this case, as soon as Patient A laid the accusation of sexual misconduct against Glenn, the College should have immediately, and without any choice in the matter, referred the matter to the police. The reason we have courts is to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected. Health care professionals who are sexual predators, and we know they exist, ought to be behind bars, not just free to work in another industry. Taxpayers pay the police and the courts to adjudicate these matters. Industry wannabe lawyers have no more place adjudicating matters of law than a store clerk has performing surgery. 

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