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Anesthesiologist accused of molesting patients a 'sexual opportunist': Crown

Dr. George Doodnaught during his trial for sexually assaulting women while they were undergoing surgery. CITYNEWS/Marianne Boucher

Allegations from 21 women that an anesthesiologist molested them during surgeries are strikingly similar and cannot be chalked up to hallucinations, the Crown said Wednesday, calling Dr. George Doodnaught a “sexual opportunist.”

In his closing arguments at Doodnaught’s trial, Crown attorney David Wright said that the sedatives used during the surgeries — sufenta, midazolam, propofol and sometimes ketamine — were administered in doses too low to cause sexual dreams.

Each of the women reported that Doodnaught kissed them, touched them inappropriately or put his genitals in their mouth while they were under conscious sedation, all but one during surgeries at North York General Hospital between 2006 and 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of sexual assault.

The women told detailed, vivid accounts of similar assaults by the now 64-year-old doctor, Wright said.

“If patients were hallucinating one would expect an element of randomness,” he said.

If the drugs are to blame, “why is it that only George Doodnaught has complaints and not the 25 other anesthesiologists at North York General Hospital who use the same drugs, the same techniques with the same staff?” Wright said.

Not one of the complaints was from a male patient, he said.

In closing submissions the day before, Doodnaught’s lawyer said the drugs were reported in some cases to cause sexual fantasies, which may help explain the accusations against the “touchy feely” anesthesiologist. Certain movements that take place during surgeries “could so easily be misinterpreted in a state of clouded consciousness,” Brian Greenspan said.

It is “simply impossible” that Doodnaught would have been able to assault 21 women undetected by anyone else in the operating rooms, the defence argued.

But the Crown lawyer said though no one caught Doodnaught in the act, some nurses and assistants did witness unusual behaviour. One saw him with his crotch close to the patient’s head, which was turned toward Doodnaught’s body with her mouth open, Wright said. The nurse saw Doodnaught pulling up his pants, Wright said.

“Using his knowledge of the staff and the OR (operation room) from 30 years of practice, this sexual opportunist timed these relatively brief sexual assaults with almost surgical precision to avoid detection,” he said.

In fact, more and more alleged assaults were taking place before he got caught, the Crown said. In the six months before his arrest one out of 30 women whose surgeries Doodnaught worked on reported being assaulted by him, Wright said. In the last 10 days before his arrest the ratio was one in 10.

“Emboldened by a lack of action from the hospital and the police, George Doodnaught’s frequency of assaults escalated,” Wright said.

Some of the women also reported that Doodnaught made sexualized comments to them after their surgeries when they were not under sedation.

“You’re a sexy lady. Do you do blow jobs?” one woman reported Doodnaught as saying.

Another patient said Doodnaught commented on her groomed genital area and said he told her he was shaved too.

Yet another woman said Doodnaught told her upon waking up from surgery that she had been fondling him while she was unconscious and light-heartedly warned her, “Don’t go fondling any more male doctors.”

Ontario Superior Court Justice David McCombs has reserved his ruling and plans to deliver it Nov. 19, though he has said if he needs more time he will let the lawyers know and the date will be pushed back.