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Dr. Allan Gordon outside the Ontario College of Surgeons and Physicians in 2018.Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

The Crown has withdrawn all remaining charges against a former prominent Toronto neurologist accused of sexually assaulting 18 patients over a span of 17 years, leaving many of the women feeling betrayed not just by the medical establishment but also by the justice system.

In a brief hearing last week at Toronto’s Old City Hall, prosecutor John Flaherty asked an Ontario court judge to withdraw the charges against Allan Gordon. Mr. Flaherty offered no reasons for not proceeding to trial. He also declined to elaborate when reached by phone, saying the Crown “wishes to respect the privacy interests of the complainants.”

Dr. Gordon, 78, did not appear in court last week. His lawyer, David Humphrey, said in an e-mailed response he had no comment.

Former Toronto neurologist found not guilty of sexual assault charge

A former patient said Mr. Flaherty contacted her prior to last week’s court hearing to inform her that he would not be proceeding with her case, because the Crown would not be able to prove her claim beyond a reasonable doubt – the threshold in a criminal court proceeding.

“I am extremely frustrated and saddened,” she said. “I feel like as women with disabilities we are dismissed by the justice system just like we are dismissed by society and the medical establishment.”

Dr. Gordon was initially charged with sexually assaulting five patients in December, 2019. But those charges were stayed this past January, after an Ontario court judge determined there had been an “excessive” delay in the proceedings.

In June, 2020, Toronto police charged Dr. Gordon with sexually assaulting another 13 patients, including one with a weapon. One of those cases went to trial earlier this year. An Ontario court judge found him not guilty of sexual assault in August, citing inconsistencies in the testimony of the complainant.

Dr. Gordon was known as a top pain specialist during his four decades at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital and was director of the hospital’s Wasser Pain Management Centre during the period he was accused of sexual assault, between 2002 and 2018.

Several former patients are suing both Dr. Gordon and Mount Sinai. The Toronto law firm Jellinek Ellis Gluckstein represents 15 of them in civil lawsuits. Simona Jellinek, senior counsel at the firm’s sexual abuse practice group, said the outcome of the criminal case likely will discourage other women from complaining to police.

“It’s obviously devastating for the women involved, but it also is devastating for any person who’s contemplating going forward in a criminal sexual-assault trial,” she said. “It sends a very freezing message to them.”

The charges against Dr. Gordon followed a Globe and Mail investigation in 2019 that identified at least 10 former patients who alleged to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario that he sexually abused them during physical examinations. Another 12 former patients came forward to The Globe after the investigation was published, accusing him of similar abuse.

The college’s complaints committee did not pursue the women’s cases, and Dr. Gordon pleaded “no contest” to the less serious offence of professional misconduct for failing to obtain a patient’s “informed consent” for a pelvic exam. As part of his settlement in 2018, he agreed to resign and never reapply to practise medicine.

Many of the patients who complained to the college and police said they spent hours describing the alleged abuse to investigators, causing them to relive it over and over again. Their identities are protected by a publication ban.

Dr. Gordon was the go-to doctor for patients afflicted with a rare disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or EDS, a connective-tissue disorder that is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Symptoms include chronic migraines, debilitating muscle and joint pain, and abdominal pain.

Another former patient said she can’t bring herself to seek medical attention for multiple health conditions caused by her EDS because of her experience with Dr. Gordon.

“I honestly have no words to describe the rage I feel about it,” she said, after learning that the charges had been withdrawn. “It’s horrifying that this is the way victims are treated. I wish I never came forward. It has brought nothing but additional pain.”

“This is not the world I want to live in, and it’s not the world I want for others,” another former patient said.