Another complaint filed against Sask. judge who ruled on sexual assault case

·3 min read
The Canadian Judicial Council confirmed it has received more than one complaint in relation to this case, and that the review is still in its very early stages but could take between three and six months.  (Bryan Eneas/CBC  - image credit)
The Canadian Judicial Council confirmed it has received more than one complaint in relation to this case, and that the review is still in its very early stages but could take between three and six months. (Bryan Eneas/CBC - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing

Another complaint has been filed against a judge who recently found a former Regina doctor not guilty of sexually assaulting several patients.

Last month, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Brian Scherman acquitted Sylvester Ukabam of seven counts of sexual assault alleged to have happened between 2010 and 2017.

Two of the women who testified against the former doctor have filed complaints this month to the Canadian Judicial Council, a national body that oversees country's federal judges, regarding Scherman's decision. The most recent complaint was filed June 17, 2022, by a woman who cannot be named because of a publication ban.

She is one of five women who accused Ukabam of touching them inappropriately during medical exams.

In her complaint about the judge, the woman noted that the former doctor's lawyer argued that the victims confused rectal penetration with vaginal penetration, given the proximity and location of the two body parts.

"The judge accepted this argument," she wrote in her complaint. The judge indicated in his written decision that the women were mistaken about what they felt happened.

She said there can be no mistake.

"I am 100 per cent confident that Sylvester Ukabam stuck his finger in my vagina … and never performed a rectal exam," she wrote. "As women, we are not confused. This is an outdated gender bias."

In a statement to the media, the woman added that the verdict was revictimizing, and said the most distressing part was that the judge's decision suggested women were unaware of the difference between their own distinct, separate body parts.

"I believe it is outrageous that Judge Scherman made the assumption that women are incapable of telling the difference between their vagina and rectum being touched."

She wrote in her complaint that the judge found her testimony unreliable and referred to her "panicked" state during the alleged assault. She said the judge "still buys into the outdated belief that women are too emotional and irrational to be believed," and that given his rationale, she wondered "if his decisions are based on outdated, sexist and misogynist personal beliefs."

In her statement to media, she questions how a person would not be emotional when testifying about being assaulted by their doctor.

In his decision, Scherman said the case came down to the reliability of evidence and that he found no reason why he should not believe Ukabam, who was "logical and consistent" in his testimony.

She believes the judge ignored evidence and testimony, was biased, relied on opinion and made assumptions. She wrote that it is her "obligation as a Canadian to tell the truth on the stand when under oath, [but] it is also my duty as a woman who is deserving the dignity of being treated with equal respect within our courts."

Review expected to take months

On Tuesday, the Canadian Judicial Council confirmed it has received more than one complaint in relation to this case. It said the review is still in its very early stages and could take between three and six months.

"The matter may be closed under the authority of the Executive Director; the judge and his or her Chief Justice may be asked to provide comments which would be reviewed by a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee; and if the views of more than one conduct committee member are deemed helpful, a matter could go to a review panel," the council's spokesperson wrote in an email.

As for the court process, the Crown has filed a notice of appeal, arguing that the judge erred by dismissing its application to admit similar fact evidence, failed to consider the totality of evidence and speculated about matters not in evidence.

Ukabam's lawyer has indicated he plans to file a cross-appeal.

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