A veteran anesthesiologist jailed for sexually assaulting 21 sedated women during surgeries has little chance of having his conviction overturned, Ontario’s Appeal Court ruled Wednesday in denying him bail. In its decision, the court said it would be counter to the public interest to release Dr. George Doodnaught until his appeal is heard, likely next year.
Dr. Doodnaught’s offences, Judge Harry LaForme wrote in his bail decision, are “very serious” and his grounds for appeal “are weak” and not likely to succeed.
“In cases like this, the need for immediate enforcement of the judgment outweighs the need to review the decision,” Justice LaForme said.
“Release, therefore, would not be in the public interest.”
Dr. Doodnaught, 65, was convicted in November of assaulting the women – aged 25 to 75 – over a four-year period at the North York General Hospital while they were semi-conscious. He was sentenced last month to 10 years.
Among the offences, the court found the 35-year anesthesiologist had inserted his penis into their mouths, used some for masturbation, and sexually fondled others.
The married father of five, a first time offender, argued for bail on the grounds he was at no risk of reoffending because his medical licence is under suspension.
Four bail sureties were offering to put up $1-million on his behalf.
In arguing against bail, the Crown said Dr. Doodnaught had shown himself to be a serial sexual offender whose crimes came “right out of a horror movie.”
Dr. Doodnaught is appealing on the grounds that the judge who convicted him made various errors related to the factual evidence against him.
While the appeal is not frivolous, Justice LaForme noted that a highly experienced trial judge found “overwhelming” evidence of Dr. Doodnaught’s guilt.
At best, Dr. Doodnaught has some “arguable” grounds to challenge his conviction but none offers compelling support that he was wrongly convicted, Justice LaForme ruled.
“Such grounds of appeal pose an uphill battle for success,” the Appeal Court justice said.
The justice said 49 letters of support for Dr. Doodnaught were of little help, and that it made little difference an appeal hearing is likely 16 to 18 months away.