Cross-examination begins in trial of Regina doctor facing sexual assault charges
WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
The Crown began its cross-examination Thursday at the trial of a former Regina doctor facing seven charges of sexual assault.
Sylvester Ukabam, 76, is accused of inappropriately touching five of his female patients between 2010 and 2017. He gave up his medical licence in December 2018.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His judge-only trial at Court of Queen's Bench in Regina began on Jan. 10.
Crown prosecutor Jackie Lane began Thursday's cross-examination by challenging Ukabam's record-keeping process and memory, asking him about how he kept patient details and what he remembered about the patients who filed complaints against him.
Lane pointed to one instance when one of Ukabam's alleged victims had coverage dropped for a drug he'd prescribed to her. Ukabam wrote a letter to the province asking for it to be reapproved, noting the woman was a single mother.
"But she's not, is she?" asked Lane.
"That was an error," Ukabam replied.
"OK, so your records aren't perfect," Lane said. "You made an error."
"I think this is a minor error," said Ukabam.
"So is it fair to say that you have no strong or real memory of the women who accused you of sexually assaulting them except [two of the alleged victims]?" Lane asked.
"Not all of them," Ukabam replied. "Most of them I've seen for many years. And there's no way I can keep the memory of all of them."
Another woman alleges that during an appointment in June 2014, Ukabam inserted a gloved finger into her vagina.
Ukabam denies that happened, but said he wrote a letter to the woman's family physician to detail the appointment and update her condition.
However, Lane charged that several facts Ukabam told court about the appointment were not included in the letter — including the fact the woman had pain that ran from her mouth to her anus and that she experienced medical problems while on a trip to Hawaii.
Ukabam said that he doesn't record everything in his letters that he would have discussed with his patients.
Stress led to giving up licence: Ukabam
Earlier in the day, Ukabam testified that he decided to give up his medical licence in the fall of 2018 after he learned charges of unprofessional conduct would be filed against him by Saskatchewan's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and that the charges would be released to the media.
The college ultimately agreed not to investigate the charges when Ukabam agreed to relinquish his licence.
He said he intended to retire the next year anyway, and noticed the stress from the complaints was starting to impact his work. He made his decision on the advice of friends, family and legal counsel.
The defence is expected to question Ukabam again Friday and also present a witness.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.