A Sarnia, Ontario doctor with a history of sexual assault convictions and professional restrictions has been charged with another sex crime following three weeks of protest by a former patient.
Dr. Kunwar Raj Singh, 76, a long-serving pediatrician in the southwestern Ontario city, was charged Wednesday with one count of indecent assault on a female, according to Sarnia police.
The charge dates back to a 1982 incident, when the alleged victim was 15. The woman alleges she was assaulted at the office of a local doctor during a medical assessment, according to a police statement.
Local resident Donna Teetzel told VICE she is the alleged victim and she filed a police report about Singh in October. Her allegations have not yet been tested in court.
Teetzel staged daily protests outside Singh’s office for three weeks this fall, carrying signs claiming she was “molested” by Dr. Singh when she was young.
VICE attempted to contact Dr. Singh at his office Thursday, but the phone call was not returned before publication.
Teetzel told VICE she was happy to hear the charge had been laid but said it was only “one step in a process.” She says Singh’s medical license needs “at a minimum” to be suspended until the charge is resolved. “The end result needs to be that he can cause no further harm,” she said.
A spokesperson for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the licensing body for doctors, told VICE an investigation into Singh’s practice began before the recent charges. He said the College was in contact with police to “understand the details of the charges...as well as any conditions of his release.” Greenfield said the investigation is ongoing and Singh is being “closely monitored."
Teetzel said she took the step of picketing outside Singh’s office after she felt Sarnia police were not acting quickly enough on her complaint. When her case was not assigned to a detective two days after her complaint, she began her one-person sidewalk protest, and the case was assigned that day, she claims. “I honestly feel it was the sustained picketing in front of his office...that actually got them to do something.”
Sarnia police say they began their investigation in October 2018. Singh went to Sarnia Police headquarters Wednesday where he was arrested and released with a court date of January 8, 2019. No conditions of release are mentioned in the police statement.
Singh was previously convicted in 1991 of six counts of indecent assault and ten counts of sexual assault against patients’ mothers, nurses, and other hospital staff, according to a CPSO disciplinary report dating from the time. He was given a suspended sentence at the time, along with two years probation. The CPSO suspended his medical license for six months following his conviction, according to the report.
But Greenfield told VICE today he would lose his license automatically if convicted of sexual assault.
“Although we are unable to go back and re-prosecute historic disciplinary cases, we are confident that we are better positioned today to best protect the public in cases that come before us.”
The CPSO report states Singh pleaded guilty and was convicted for 13 incidents of grabbing and rubbing the breasts, groins, and butts of patients’ mothers, nurses and other hospital staff, along with kissing and embracing the women. A redacted version of the report provided to VICE suggests the kisses and embraces were forced and unwelcomed. It states the assaults occurred in social settings as well as in a hospital over a 16-year period, from 1974 to 1990. The redactions removed only the names of the complainants and any identifying details.
While some hospital employees reported the incidents to a superior, there was no evidence “any formal action” was taken against Dr. Singh before 1990, according to the report.
During his suspension, Singh tried to apply for a medical license in Trinidad & Tobago, but was caught falsifying documents from the Ontario College that were requested by Trinidadian officials, and his license was again suspended, that time for three months.
Donna Teetzel says Singh’s examination of her for abdominal pain while she was a teenager had a damaging and long-lasting effect. Describing herself as a good high school student and athlete, everything started to change after the visit to his office that day in 1982. “Life was very much on track for me, but after encountering him, I ended up dropping out of high school. I had a suicide attempt, depression, mental health issues.” It took years for Teetzel to get her life “back on track,” she told VICE.
After leaving the Sarnia area, Teetzel heard about the 1991 charges but didn’t come forward herself, as her experience was still “very raw,” she said. “I was just very grateful others had come forward. I could put it behind me because of these other women.”
Over the years living away from the area, Teetzel just assumed Singh wouldn’t be practicing medicine anymore, and that he would be jailed. “I just said OK, it’s behind me, it’s all done. I had no clue he was still practicing.” When she came back to the Sarnia area four years ago, Teetzel was upset and shocked to see his office open.
She now wants the CPSO to “act responsibly” and immediately revoke Singh’s license. If the College doesn’t act soon, she will try to take the matter straight to the office of Ontario premier Doug Ford.
“He (Singh) shouldn’t be seeing patients. This isn’t the first instance. He has a very long history,” she said.
During her protest Teetzel met both supporters and detractors. Some people driving by shouted out she was a liar, and Singh’s staff called police to have her moved on the first day of picketing, but she was left in peace as long as she stayed on public property, Teetzel recalls. She spoke with the parents of the pediatrician’s patients as they arrived or left the office, but only if they spoke with her first, Teetzel said. Some parents were “quite upset” with her, while others were “very appreciative” because they didn’t know about Singh’s history. Teetzel says she only shared information that was public information available on the CPSO website.
She received support from the Sarnia area chapter of the Women’s March organization, whose members joined her in front of Singh’s office for a one-day protest on November 30.
Since the 1991 convictions, Singh has been repeatedly subjected to restrictions on his practice and monitoring by the College. He has required a chaperone since 2003, said CPSO spokesperson Greenfield in an email reply to VICE. The chaperones have been female regulated health professionals, who have been fully informed of Dr. Singh’s discipline history prior to accepting this responsibility, Greenfield adds. Singh is also required to post a sign in his office notifying patients he will only see female patients and female parents/caregivers in the presence of another registered health professional, the email explains.
Greenfield did not provide the reasons for the restrictions, and the CPSO website says only “the College received information about Dr. Singh’s standard of practice.”
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