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Psychiatrist hired as chair at University of Alberta resigns amid sex scandal

A psychiatrist facing an allegation that he had sex with a patient in Ontario has resigned from his new job as department chair at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Claudio Soares was hired to head up the university's psychiatry department effective Sept. 1, but was placed on leave before he could start.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is investigating a charge of professional misconduct against him. It's alleged that Soares had a sexual relationship with a female patient between November 2007 and May 2009.

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At the time, he was a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton and also director of the affiliated Women's Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.

McMaster announced in June that Dr. Soares was moving to Alberta, university spokeswoman Susan Emigh said.

Jo-anne Nugent, a spokeswoman at the University of Alberta, said she couldn't confirm when staff officially hired Dr. Soares or when they found out about the allegation against him.

The university's website says he visited the Edmonton campus several times as a candidate for the job and made research presentations as early as January.

Ms. Nugent said Dr. Soares was placed on leave the same day he was to start as chair, and on Monday he "resigned effective immediately."

Ms. Nugent wouldn't say whether the university plans to review its hiring procedures.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario issued a hearing notice about Dr. Soares on July 11. On Aug. 7, a public notification was sent to other provinces informing them that Dr. Soares was not to be left alone with female patients during its investigation.

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Documents also allege that Dr. Soares failed to fully co-operate with an investigator from the college.

College spokeswoman Kathryn Clarke said Soares no longer has a licence to practise in Ontario. His certificate of registration expired on Sept. 1 when his academic appointment ended at McMaster.

"Despite the fact that he is no longer licensed, the referral to discipline remains in effect because we have continuing jurisdiction for professional misconduct or incompetence."

She said it may take a couple of months before a hearing date is set.

Kelly Eby, a spokeswoman for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, said it's not known if Dr. Soares had applied to practise in the province, but added that he is not currently listed as having a licence or permit.

She said Dr. Soares didn't necessarily need one. If his job as chair at the University of Alberta were strictly administrative, a permit would not have been required.

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