The Ontario Court of Appeal has denied former anesthesiologist George Doodnaught bail for sexual assault convictions. The Toronto doctor was sentenced last month for sexually assaulting 21 female patients while they were semi-conscious under his care. Doodnaught asked the judge to free him on bail while he awaits his hearing, which could be almost two years away. Doodnaught was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Most of the assaults involved women at North York General Hospital, where witness testimonies described Doodnaught fondling their breasts, kissing and performing other lewd and forced acts. Doodnaught worked at North York General Hospital for 26 years.
Doodnaught’s lawyer, in arguing for bail, pointed out Doodnaught was a first time offender and he had dozens of letters of support from people in the community. Furthermore, Doodnaught posed no risk of reoffending because his license is suspended. Doodnaught is appealing on the grounds that the judge who convicted him made various errors related to the factual evidence against him.
The Crown had argued that the number of victims and the serious nature of Doodnaught’s crime should disqualify him from being released while the appeal proceeds. Releasing this “serial sexual predator” would be an affront to the justice system, the Crown argued.
Justice Harry LaForme ruled that although he does not believe that Doodnaught represents a flight risk, the seriousness of his crimes means that his release may pose a threat to the public. The judge also wrote that Doodnaught’s grounds for appeal are not meritorious and would most likely not hold because none of them compel support for wrongful conviction. LaForme also noted that a highly experienced trial judge found overwhelming evidence of Doonaught’s guilt.
Edward Prutschi, a legal analyst for NewsTalk1010, Toronto Criminal Lawyers and partner at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman criminal law firm, joined Jerry Agar to discuss this case. Mr. Prutschi first notes that he was very surprised that Doodnaught was denied bail. While it is not a popular view, in light of the horrifying nature of the crimes that Doodnaught was convicted of, Mr. Prutschi argues it is common on appeal for first time offenders who have complied with all bail conditions to be released on bail.
Listen to the rest of Mr. Prutschi’s, a Toronto sexual assault lawyer, discussion of this case.