By Jennifer Saltman/Special to the Advance
A former Langley veterinarian who made an unwelcome advance toward a woman who brought a dog to the clinic where he worked has been convicted of assault.
Wayne Etherington was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of committing an indecent act. But following a trial in provincial court in Surrey, he was acquitted of committing the indecent act and one sexual assault, and found guilty on Wednesday of the lesser included offence of assault.
Sentencing is scheduled to take place in July.
The assault occurred in January 2013, when Etherington was working at the Clayton Animal Hospital.
A woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, brought in her dog because it had flu-like symptoms, and Etherington treated the dog with intravenous fluids. She arranged to pick up her dog later that evening, rather than leave it overnight.
The woman testified at trial that when she returned, Etherington initiated some personal conversation that made her feel uneasy. At the end of the appointment, Etherington hugged her and then kissed her on the cheek. The woman left as quickly as possible.
“I was by this time really uncomfortable and feeling scared,” she said.
As she put her dog in her truck, the woman said Etherington came out and apologized, saying he was tired and lonely, and must have misread her cues.
“I said, ‘Yeah, you really did,’” the woman said.
Etherington was also charged with failing to appear in court. Etherington’s trial on the sexual offences was initially supposed to take place in February 2015; however, he did not show up and a warrant was issued for his arrest. That charge was dismissed on Wednesday.
Etherington was suspended by the College of Veterinarians of B.C., which received a number of serious complaints about him, and he subsequently resigned. In May 2015, the college found that he committed professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct and acted incompetently in relation to 20 charges. He was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay costs of $74,254.80.
He is ineligible to reapply for registration for at least five years.
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