Public reprimand for Ontario doctor who ‘brought shame to the profession’

Public reprimand for doctor who abused women

TORONTO — Ontario’s medical watchdog has issued a scathing reprimand against a psychiatrist who sexually abused multiple patients over more than a decade, saying the man brought shame to the profession.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said Dr. Stanley Thomas Dobrowolski caused “deep anguish and lasting harm” to many patients for “selfish and perverse gratification.”

Dobrowolski had appeared before the committee four times since 1994 but only had his licence to practice revoked in November 2015, after it found his case was “one of the worse cases of egregious misconduct” it had ever dealt with.

Dobrowolski was not present at that time as he was serving a four-year prison sentence after being found guilty of sexual assault in relation to 16 people, voyeurism through surreptitiously making visual recordings of nine, and breaching a court order by conducting physical examinations on 12 patients.

In addition to stripping his licence, the college also planned to reprimand Dobrowolski but — in what a spokeswoman called an unusual move — delayed doing so until Monday in order to give the recently released man a chance to attend the session in Toronto.

The college spokeswoman said Dobrowolski did not attend the session but the public reprimand was issued nonetheless.

“Your actions betrayed the fundamental ethics and principles to which we all swore when we became physicians,” discipline committee member Dr. William King said in the reprimand. “You have brought shame on yourself; you have brought shame to the profession.”

King said the discipline committee’s only regret was that it had not revoked Dobrowolski’s licence to practice sooner.

“Society will be the better if you never again practice medicine.”

The committee found Dobrowolski’s professional misconduct related to a total of 31 female patients — 22 of whom were the subject of his criminal convictions.

Of those 31 women, the committee found Dobrowolski victimized and sexually abused 28 female patients.

The misconduct occurred over a 13-year period, the committee found, “demonstrating a persistent pattern of intolerable and inappropriate behaviour.”

Dobrowolski had pleaded no contest to the allegations he faced before the college.

In a detailed written decision following the revocation of Dobrowolski’s license, the committee said it found the doctor’s behaviour “repugnant.”

Dobrowolski would perform what were purportedly breast, vaginal and dermatological examinations on numerous female patients, requesting the women to remove all or part of their clothing under the guise of examining the skin for moles or possible skin cancers, the committee said.

His misconduct involved, but wasn’t limited to, fondling the breasts of female patients in a sexual manner during the purported breast exams, the committee said. Dobrowolski also intentionally inserted one or more of his fingers into certain patients’ vaginas on several occasions, the committee said.

“These examinations had no legitimate connection to any medical or psychiatric care being provided to his patients, and were, in fact, for his own sexual purposes,” the committee said, noting that Dobrowolski also recorded images of some patients.

“Female patients who trusted Dr. Dobrowolski to provide psychiatric help during difficult times in their lives were repeatedly violated when Dr. Dobrowolski used hidden cameras to photograph them – with neither their knowledge nor consent – in a naked or semi naked state. Dr. Dobrowolski also touched and fondled these female patients in an inappropriate, sexual manner while secretly recording these touchings as well.”

Dobrowolski’s actions caused a great deal of suffering to his patients, the committee said, noting in particular the case of one patient who told them the doctor’s actions made her feel “guilty, nervous, ashamed, and worthless” and made it difficult to trust men.

In that woman’s case, the committee said an investigation found Dobrowolski conducted frequent purported physical examinations on the patient, including of her breast, vaginal area and rectum. He justified them by telling the woman he had saved other patients’ lives in the past by recognizing cancerous moles, the committee said.

The committee added that Dobrowolski took photographs of the woman and also showed her photographs of what he said were other patients’ vaginal areas, pointing out purported cases where he said he’d helped women spot and survive cancer.

Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press