A former prominent Toronto neurologist is scheduled to stand trial this week on a single count of sexual assault after initially being charged with abusing 18 patients over a span of 17 years.
Allan Gordon, 77, was 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.
Toronto police charged Dr. Gordon with sexually assaulting another 13 patients, including one with a weapon, in June, 2020. He will be tried on one of the charges in Toronto’s Old City Hall on Tuesday, said Brian Gray, a spokesman in the Ontario Attorney-General’s Office. The Crown has not withdrawn or stayed the remaining charges laid two years ago, he said.
David Humphrey, Dr. Gordon’s lawyer, said the case against his client involves a “single encounter” with a patient.
“Dr. Gordon has pleaded not guilty to the charge and will be vigorously defending himself against this allegation,” he said in an e-mail.
Dr. Gordon was known as a top pain specialist during his four decades at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. He was director of the hospital’s Wasser Pain Management Centre when he allegedly sexually assaulted the patients.
The charges followed a Globe and Mail investigation in 2019 that identified at least 10 former patients who complained to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario that Dr. Gordon sexually abused them. Another twelve former patients came forward to The Globe after the investigation was published, accusing him of similar abuse.
“While the process remains a difficult journey, there is some relief in learning the criminal matter is finally proceeding,” said Jordan Assaraf, a Toronto lawyer who is representing 13 former patients in civil lawsuits against Dr. Gordon.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons did not respond to a request for comment. Mount Sinai spokeswoman Barbara McCully reiterated that the hospital has fully co-operated with police.
Toronto police charged Dr. Gordon with sexually assaulting the patients between 2002 and 2018, according to documents filed in Ontario Court of Justice. With one of the patients, police charged him with using a Wartenberg Wheel as a weapon to assault her – a medical device that is rolled across the skin to test nerve sensitivity.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
In his written decision staying the initial five charges, Justice Malcolm McLeod said Dr. Gordon’s lawyers and the prosecutors both contributed to the delays. But he criticized Crown attorneys for their “completely unacceptable” pace of disclosure.
“There was no adequate explanation, let alone exceptional circumstances, to justify the excessive delay that occurred in these cases,” the decision said.
The Supreme Court set new time limits for criminal proceedings in 2016 in a ruling known as R v. Jordan, allowing 18 months for cases in provincial court.
In the Gordon matter, the clock started running on Dec. 13, 2019, when he was initially formally charged, the decision said, and a trial would not have concluded until 29 months later.
The Crown cited complexities associated with the 4,000 pages of documents the college and the hospital produced to police, arguing that much of the material consisted of patients’ private medical records that should not be disclosed, the decision said. Many of the pages eventually handed over to Dr. Gordon’s lawyers were completely blacked out.
As part of its investigation, The Globe obtained copies of college reports summarizing patients’ complaints about Dr. Gordon and the alleged abuse that took place during physical examinations. One woman accused him of thrusting his crotch against her vagina; another accused him of sexually stimulating her clitoris; another accused him of inserting a finger in her anus without her consent.
The college removed from its public website any mention that Dr. Gordon once stood accused of sexually abusing a patient during a medical exam in 2015. It closed the files of women who complained and did not publicly acknowledge their allegations, The Globe reported.
Instead, Dr. Gordon pleaded “no contest” before a disciplinary panel in October, 2018, to the less serious offence of professional misconduct for failing to obtain a patient’s “informed consent” for a pelvic exam.
As part of the settlement, he agreed to resign and never reapply to practise medicine.
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