Could be hoax, says lawyer for man alleged to have offered circumcisions without licence

1 / 2
Could be hoax, says lawyer for man alleged to have offered circumcisions without licence

The lawyer for a Carbonear man charged with practising medicine without a licence is speaking out on his client's behalf.

"Despite the seriousness of the allegations, and no doubt they are, he is still entitled to the due process, fair trial, all rights that everyone else would be afforded regardless of the type of charge." said Johnathan McDonald, who represents Josh Chubbs, 23.

Chubbs was charged under the Medical Act on Feb. 20 and will appear in court April 12.  

A mother from the Conception Bay North area told CBC News that Chubbs wrote to her on Facebook saying he could perform a circumcision or a frenulectomy — which involves the surgical removal of tissue from the penis.

She said the conversation started with Cubbs asking if her son, who is under 10, had any medical issues with his genitals.

The mother took her concerns to the police.

McDonald said it's too early to say if Chubbs will plead not guilty.

"But what I can say is, obviously, he has retained private counsel, and I think that in some way does speak for itself, in that he'll be going to court, he'll be answering the charges, and he'll go through the process just like any other individual would," says McDonald.

Asked if his client has any medical training, McDonald replied, "Again, something I can't get into at this juncture."

Beware of social media

The mother claimed that Chubbs told her he had performed a procedure on an adult male, that the man confirmed it for her.

McDonald said people need to keep an open mind for now.

"We have the capability in today's day and age with Facebook, Twitter, smartphones to spread information so rapidly, regardless of the validity of it or not. Things can be sent, things can be spread regardless of how true they are."

So, could Chubbs be the victim of a malicious hoax?

"It is certainly within the realm of possibility," said McDonald.

"Not saying it is definitive or anything like that, but I'm just saying because of how unregulated something like that is ... anybody can say or claim anything," said McDonald.

"I reiterate, they [the charges] are going to be adjudicated upon in the courtroom, and not on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere."

Serious consequences

"My client is a normal young male," said McDonald. "He's from the Carbonear area, went to school there." 

Chubbs is charged under the provincial Medical Act, not the criminal code, but McDonald said the consequences could still be severe if he is found guilty.

"If I'm not mistaken, I do think that the Act does allow for a maximum fine of $10,000 and a prison term of six months."

That would be for each charge. 

"The allegations can be stretched, can be made so egregious, and outrageous that it is definitely going to shock the ordinary person, but it is not enough to convict him," says McDonald.

"It is not enough to make a determination of what actually happened. That's what the court process, the fact-finding process, is about."