Sexual abuse is often about power, not gratification, says committee in professional misconduct case

Doctor found to have inappropriately touched two minor boys

Sexual abuse is often about power, not gratification, says committee in professional misconduct case

An Ontario doctor was recently found to have committed professional misconduct by inappropriately touching the genitals of two underage boys, with one incident taking place in a medical context and with the other incident occurring outside of a medical context.

In Ontario (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario) v. Taliano, 2020 ONCPSD 42, a doctor was accused of committing professional misconduct when he sexually abused Patient A, a 14-year-old boy, by inappropriately touching his penis and testicles in a sexual manner, supposedly as a part of a genital examination in the doctor’s office, despite the patient’s protests and refusal; and when during a weekend event in the doctor’s cottage, the doctor entered the shower naked, touched the penis of Witness B, a 13-year-old boy, and commented to others about Witness B’s penis size.

The doctor denied these allegations, contending that the genital examination with Patient A was clinically appropriate and that the incident with Witness B involved neither touching nor any comments about Witness B’s penis size.

With regard to the incident involving Patient A, the Discipline Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario considered the conflicting narratives of the witnesses and determined that Patient A was a credible and reliable witness whose evidence was generally consistent with that given by his friend and by his mother, witnesses whose evidence the committee also found to be credible and reliable. Given that the incident occurred back in 2012, it made sense that Patient A could not recall all the details, the committee said.

In contrast, the committee expressed concerns about the doctor’s evidence, given that his evidence on numerous issues changed as the proceedings went on, contradicted the medical record and involved self-serving explanations. The committee also noted that the doctor was argumentative and hostile when interacting with Patient A’s mother and inappropriate with his comments to the counsel for the college.

The committee found that the doctor’s comment to Patient A to drop his pants was inappropriate, that the doctor failed to secure the necessary consent to examine Patient A’s genitals and that the touching of Patient A’s genitals amounted to sexual abuse.

“The fact that Dr. Taliano testified that he has never had a homosexual experience and did not have an erection during the encounter is not relevant and did not factor into our decision,” wrote the Committee. “We accept that sexual abuse is often about power and that it is not necessary for the perpetrator to derive sexual gratification from the abuse.”

As for the incident with Witness B, which was also subject to conflicting narratives from the witnesses, the committee found Witness B’s evidence to be credible and reliable and addressed the internal consistencies of his testimony. The doctor’s evidence, on the other hand, contained external inconsistencies and often appeared to be exaggerated, contrived or misleading, the committee said. The committee also pointed out gaps in the evidence of the doctor’s ex-wife and brother-in-law.

The committee found that the doctor indeed entered naked into the shower of Witness B, touched Witness B’s penis and commented on Witness B’s penis size in front of other people.

The committee ruled that these acts involving Patient A and Witness B constituted disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct, as defined in s. 1(1)(33) of the Professional Misconduct Regulation, which was made under the Medicine Act, 1991.

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