Former doctor's accuser speaks out about sexual assault allegation

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The complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, spoke to CBC News about the allegations against her former doctor.   (Dave Laughlin/CBC - image credit)
The complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, spoke to CBC News about the allegations against her former doctor. (Dave Laughlin/CBC - image credit)

A woman who has accused a former Dartmouth, N.S., doctor of sexual assault says she wants to tell her story in hopes of empowering victims of abuse to come forward.

The woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, alleges Graeme Bethune sexually assaulted her during house calls in the mid-2000s while she was a patient.

She contacted police last November after hearing that Bethune, now 74, had been disciplined for having an inappropriate relationship with someone described as a vulnerable patient. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia revoked his licence last year.

"I thought, this one person has come forward and said something. I'm going to add my voice to that and make it a little bit louder," she told CBC News on Thursday.

Her allegations have not been tested in court.

Sexual assault charge laid

Halifax Regional Police said this week in a news release that Bethune faces one count of sexual assault. He is expected in court at a later date.

Before contacting police, the woman said she began asking herself if she could've done something differently in her interactions with Bethune, and if she was at fault.

"I think as women, we tend to minimize things when things happen to us," she said. "And that's when you start questioning yourself, and it's not a good place to be in your mind to start wondering."

She said she continued to see Bethune because she needed a family doctor and he knew her medical history.

The woman said there's been pushback from people who can't seem to accept the idea that a family doctor could be responsible for the things Bethune is accused of.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia revoked Bethune's medical licence last year.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia revoked Bethune's medical licence last year.(Carolyn Ray/CBC)

"This person said to me, 'Are you feeling guilt? Do you feel guilty about what you are doing to your doctor, because he's been so good to so many people?'" she said.

"And it really set me back because I thought about that and I said, 'All of a sudden it's about what I did?'"

The woman said the experience of coming forward has been difficult, but she encouraged victims of sexual assault to speak out in an act of solidarity.

"Even though there's going to be a bunch of pushback, there's going to be people that are going to call you a liar, there's going to be people that are going to say things that are going to hurt your feelings, don't let it stop you, because it's the silence that allows it to continue," she said.

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