'It's impacted every aspect of my life,' first witness says at sexual assault trial for former Regina doctor

·2 min read
Former doctor Sylvester Ukabam has been charged with seven counts of sexual assault. His trial began on Jan. 10.  (LinkedIn - image credit)
Former doctor Sylvester Ukabam has been charged with seven counts of sexual assault. His trial began on Jan. 10. (LinkedIn - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing

The trial for a former doctor who has been charged with seven counts of sexual assault began Monday at the Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan.

Seventy-six-year-old Sylvester Ukabam was a gastroenterology specialist — a doctor who deals with disorders of the stomach and intestines — working in downtown Regina.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Court heard Monday from the first witness, a 40-year old mother of three who alleges that Ukabam sexually assaulted her under the pretence of conducting a physical examination.

The alleged offence occurred during a colonoscopy procedure on May 29, 2013, while the witness — who had been given medication for pain management — was under "conscious sedation."

She testified that she felt pressure in her vagina.

"I have to assume it was Dr. Ukabam because he was at my bottom and was performing the colonoscopy," she said.

A publication ban prohibits any of the complainants from being named.

The witness said that due to the sedation, her memory about some details is foggy.

The witness cancelled her next scheduled colonoscopy with Ukabam five years later and reported the incident in 2018. Legal counsel for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan told her that the vaginal pressure she experienced during the 2013 colonoscopy was not a medical necessity.

"I'm scared to get another colonoscopy, so scared," she told the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury.

"I'm also scared to let my children get their [medical] procedures."

The witness said that prior to the incident, she respected Ukabam and held him in high regard.

The witness said the incident has impacted every aspect of her life, from personal relationships to being present for her children.

"I have difficulty trusting doctors, and it has held me back from getting medical attention I need and deserve," she said.

"This experience taught me that in order to get potentially life-saving medical attention, I have to offer my body as a price of admission and that's totally unfair."

She was then questioned by the defence about what details she recalls about her colonoscopy and the reporting process.

During cross-examination, the defence suggested the woman was mistaken about her recollection of the procedure because she was sedated.

The date range for the alleged offences spans eight years, from 2010 to 2018.

Ukabam struck a deal with Saskatchewan's College of Physicians and Surgeons and agreed to relinquish his medical licence and never practise medicine again effective Dec. 9, 2018.

The trial is expected to take three weeks. It will resume Tuesday.

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