Review paused for Saskatchewan judge who acquitted doctor in sex assault case

·2 min read
Sylvester Ukabam, right, is shown at Court of Queen's Bench in Regina on Monday, Jan.10, 2022. Ukabam, a 76-year-old former doctor, was accused of sexually assaulting patients during medical exams between 2010 and 2017. He was found not guilty on all counts.   (Mickey Djuric/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Sylvester Ukabam, right, is shown at Court of Queen's Bench in Regina on Monday, Jan.10, 2022. Ukabam, a 76-year-old former doctor, was accused of sexually assaulting patients during medical exams between 2010 and 2017. He was found not guilty on all counts. (Mickey Djuric/The Canadian Press - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing

The national council tasked with assessing the conduct of a Regina judge who found a former Regina doctor not guilty of sexually assaulting five patients says the review has been put on pause.

Justice Brian Scherman acquitted Sylvester Ukabam in May on seven counts of sexual assault alleged to have happened during medical exams between 2010 and 2017.  The Regina Court of Queen's Bench judge found the complainants' testimonies were not reliable.

After the acquittal, two of the women who testified against the former doctor filed complaints with the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) — the national body that oversees the country's federal judges — regarding Scherman's decision.

They said the judge's decision was based on outdated, sexist and misogynist personal beliefs. One woman wrote in her complaint that the judge ignored evidence and testimony, was biased, relied on opinion and made assumptions.

Shortly after the complaints were filed in June, the CJC confirmed the review was in its early stages and could take between three and six months.

However, last week, one of the women who filed a formal complaint against the Court of Queen's Bench judge — she cannot be named due to a publication ban — received a letter from CJC.

"Please be advised that the complaint file has been put in abeyance pending the decision on the appeal filed before the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan," wrote Jacqueline Corado, acting executive director for CJC.

In June, the Crown filed a notice of appeal with the intent of challenging the not-guilty verdict. The Crown is seeking to appeal the acquittal on a number of grounds, including that the judge erred in failing to admit similar-fact evidence and failed to consider "the totality of the evidence."

The Crown also says the judge erred "by speculating about matters not in evidence."

After the woman (who cannot be identified) received notice that the CJC was pausing its review because of this appeal, she reiterated her concerns to the national body.

She wrote that the judge was "clearly and unequivocally sexist, misogynist, and in violation of the CJC's code of conduct."

"You don't need to wait for the appeal to tell you what we already know: the judge's conduct in the Ukabam case was appallingly sexist," she wrote.

While informing her of the delay, Corado offered "assurance that the matter will be finalized as expeditiously as possible" but offered no concrete timeline.

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