Toronto police have charged a prominent pain specialist with sexually assaulting five patients over a span of 14 years.
Allan Gordon, 75, was arrested on Friday and charged with five counts of sexual assault, the Toronto Police Service said in a news release. Police expressed concern there may be more victims.
Dr. Gordon, a neurologist, was director of the Wasser Pain Management Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto when he allegedly sexually assaulted the patients between 2002 and 2016, police said. He is scheduled to appear in court at Toronto’s Old City Hall on Feb. 5.
A Globe and Mail investigation in May identified at least 10 former patients who complained to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario that Dr. Gordon sexually abused them. Three of the patients also filed civil lawsuits against him.
Dr. Gordon joined Mount Sinai in 1975 and became chief of neurology in 1981. During his four decades at the hospital, he was known as a top pain specialist and the go-to doctor for patients afflicted with a rare disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a connective-tissue disorder that is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Symptoms include chronic migraines, debilitating muscle and joint pain, and abdominal pain.
Documents obtained earlier this year by The Globe, including lawsuits and college reports summarizing the patients’ complaints, describe the alleged abuse that took place during physical examinations: One woman accused Dr. Gordon of thrusting his crotch against her vagina; another accused him of sexually stimulating her clitoris; another accused him of inserting a finger in her anus without her consent.
The college refused to divulge how many patients complained about Dr. Gordon and removed from its public website any mention that he once stood accused of sexually abusing a patient during a medical exam in May, 2015. It closed the files of women who complained and did not publicly acknowledge their allegations, The Globe reported.
Instead, Dr. Gordon pleaded “no contest” before a discipline panel in October, 2018, to the less serious offence of professional misconduct for failing to obtain a patient’s “informed consent” for a pelvic exam.
As part of the settlement, he agreed to resign and never reapply to practise medicine in Ontario or any other jurisdiction. He was 73 at the time.
Dr. Gordon has not practised medicine since July, 2017, when Mount Sinai Hospital suspended, and later revoked, his hospital privileges.
Nancy Whitmore, registrar of the college, said earlier this year that the regulator has protected the public interest because Dr. Gordon agreed never to practise medicine again.
The Gordon case has raised questions about whether the medical regulator is equipped to investigate sexual-abuse complaints. Marilou McPhedran, a senator and human-rights lawyer who has chaired three government-appointed inquiries in Ontario on the sexual abuse of patients, said the college is not adequately protecting patients.
The most recent inquiry led by Ms. McPhedran recommended in 2016 that the government take away the health regulatory colleges’ ability to prosecute and adjudicate sexual-abuse complaints and place that power in the hands of a new centralized body and independent tribunal.
However, the Ontario government said earlier this year it has no plans to change the status quo.
The Gordon case is not an isolated incident. The Globe investigation found that the college dropped allegations against one in four doctors accused of sexually abusing patients over a six-year period. The doctors either admitted to less serious misconduct or pleaded no contest – meaning they did not contest the facts, but also did not admit guilt.
Mount Sinai is “fully cooperating” with the police investigation, hospital spokeswoman Barbara McCully said in a statement on Friday evening. “We deeply regret that patients of our hospital who entrusted their care to Dr. Gordon had their trust violated,” she said.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.