An anesthesiologist accused of molesting his female patients during surgery has been found guilty on all counts.
The Crown called Dr. George Doodnaught a “sexual opportunist.”
He had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting 21 women under his care.
Each of the women reported that Doodnaught kissed them, touched them inappropriately or committed other sexual acts while they were under conscious sedation — all but one during surgeries at a Toronto hospital between 2006 and 2010.
Some of Doodnaught’s victims were in the packed courtroom as the verdict was read, and some people could be heard sighing with relief or whispering “Yes.”
Judge David McCombs found Doodnaught’s guilt on all counts “overwhelming.”
The defence had argued that at least some of the assaults would have been physically impossible as described, but the judge rejected that argument.
He also dismissed the defence position that Doodnaught would not have had the opportunity to molest the patients, noting that he was an experienced doctor who knew the routines of a busy operating room and would have been able to avoid detection. He was also known as being “touchy feely,” McCombs noted.
“His approach, particularly with female patients, was to soothe them by speaking softly to them and often by stroking their cheek or their hair,” McCombs wrote in his decision.
“Because he was known for his caring approach, OR staff did not consider it unusual for him to be in very close physical proximity to sedated patients under his care.”
The height and width of surgical draping would have rendered it “difficult if not impossible” for others in the operating room to see what the anesthetist was doing, McCombs found.
Doodnaught’s lawyer also said in closing arguments the sedation drugs were reported in some cases to cause sexual fantasies, which may help explain the accusations against the anesthesiologist.
But the Crown argued the sedatives were administered in doses too low to cause sexual dreams.