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Clinic closes after doctor’s licence revoked

By Christina Heyding

July 30, 2005

A health clinic in Leaside will close later this month after its head doctor lost his licence for having a sexual relationship with one of his patients.

The clinic opened two years ago inside the Pharma Plus Drugmart on Bayview and Eglinton Aves. but the incident involving its physician, Dr. Stephen Dawson, goes back to 1999 when he was practising in Barrie, Ont.

A disciplinary panel of College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario heard the details of the case, and on May 9 revoked Dawson’s licence.

The female patient, whose name can’t be released, first went to see Dawson in March of 1999, seeking therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome and counselling for marital problems.

According to an agreed statement of facts, during the subsequent weeks Dawson and the patient began a relationship that involved oral sex and other intimate acts, but no intercourse. Dawson, who was separated from his wife at the time, said the sexual relationship was consensual, but the patient, who was 35 years old, said otherwise.

“I have lasting emotional scars in the form of recurrent nightmares of being held down, kissed and groped against my wishes,” the patient wrote in a victim’s impact statement.

Dawson ended their relationship in December 1999. He wanted to reconcile with his wife and counselled the patient to do the same with her husband.

He remained her doctor until 2002 and they participated in the same Bible study group.

The Canadian Medical Association’s code of ethics bars doctors from having sexual relationships with their patients, consensual or otherwise.

Dawson, who admitted his actions constituted professional misconduct, can apply for reinstatement of his licence after five years. His lawyer would was not available to comment on whether he is facing any lawsuits.

Dawson practiced in two Toronto clinics, one on Sherbourne and Yonge. St., which is now closed. The Leaside clinic, which is called the Doctor Family Medical Walk-in Clinic, will officially close on June 29.

The clinic’s second doctor is taking patients until then and will continue treating them at several other locations after the Leaside clinic closes.

The clinic’s secretary, who did not want to be named, said the clinic had been attracting many patients when Dawson was there on a regular basis.

“It was growing in leaps and bounds,” she said. “So it’s unfortunate (that it has to close).”

A media representative from Pharma Plus would not comment on the disciplinary hearing, saying the company had no ties to Dawson.

“The Doctor Family Medical Walk-in Clinic operates separately from Pharma Plus Drugmart,” the company said in a written statement.

Dawson faced the College of Physicians in a disciplinary hearing once before.

In 2002, four female patients complained that Dawson would not prescribe birth control pills for them because they were single.

At the time, Dawson told the College of Physicians prescribing the pill to unmarried women was against his morals because he didn’t want to promote sex outside of marriage. The College said he had a right to his beliefs, but ordered him to post a sign in his clinics explaining his policies.

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