Trial begins for N.S. doctor accused of sexually assaulting patient during exam

·3 min read
Dr. Oluwarotimi (Tim) Fashoranti is facing a single charge of sexual assault relating to an alleged incident in July 2020. (CBC - image credit)
Dr. Oluwarotimi (Tim) Fashoranti is facing a single charge of sexual assault relating to an alleged incident in July 2020. (CBC - image credit)

CAUTION: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.

A woman who has accused a Nova Scotia doctor of sexually assaulting her during an appointment tearfully testified Wednesday she felt betrayed when the physician allegedly fondled her breasts and followed her outside the clinic to her car.

The 47-year-old woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was the first person to testify at the provincial court trial for Dr. Oluwarotimi (Tim) Fashoranti in Amherst, N.S.

Fashoranti, 64, faces a single charge of sexual assault relating to the alleged incident on July 31, 2020. The Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons suspended Fashoranti's licence to practise after he was charged.

In opening comments Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Mary Ellen Nurse described the charge against Fashoranti as the "low end" of sexual assault.

The Crown is proceeding summarily, meaning Fashoranti would face a maximum of 18 months in jail if convicted, whereas an indictable offence would carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Exam conducted alone

During her testimony, the complainant told the court she felt "comfortable" when she went to her appointment to be examined for stomach pain and nausea.

She testified she intended to go sunbathing after her appointment and was wearing a bikini bottom at the time, which she said Fashoranti pulled down before looking at her pubic area.

She said Fashoranti then asked her to remove her bra and fondled her breasts. The woman said his touch was not like previous breast exams she had experienced.

The woman said when she got up to leave, she found the door to the examination room had been locked. She also testified she and Fashoranti had been alone during the appointment.

Woman alleges she was followed

Because of a previous complaint against him, the College of Physicians and Surgeons imposed a condition on Fashoranti's licence that he have a chaperone with him when he conducted exams.

The woman said the doctor followed her out to the parking lot of his clinic and leaned into the window of her car to ask whether she was going to the beach. She replied she was going home to lie on her deck.

She said at that point, she became scared that he might follow her home.

Through sobs, she told the court she felt "disappointment" and "betrayal" following the appointment.

She told the Crown she felt she had an obligation to come forward because she would feel horrible "if this happened to anyone else's daughter or granddaughter."

But on cross-examination, Fashoranti's lawyer, Stan MacDonald, accused the woman of planning a civil lawsuit against the doctor, and a criminal conviction would increase her chances of winning a settlement.

MacDonald also quoted from police reports indicating that in the weeks after the July incident, the woman was growing impatient with the pace of the investigation and the fact Fashoranti had not been charged. The charge was laid in November 2020.

Previous complaint

A prior complaint against Fashoranti involved another female patient who accused him of fondling her breasts during a 2010 visit she made to the All Saints Springhill Hospital.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons ruled he performed an inappropriate exam, but it dismissed a second charge that he had an inappropriate interaction with the woman.

The disciplinary panel imposed a three-month suspension on Fashoranti's medical licence and imposed the condition that he have a chaperone present when he examined patients.

3 other allegations made

Since the sexual assault charge was laid, three other women have come forward with allegations they were sexually assaulted by Fashoranti.

The alleged incidents happened in Pugwash and Springhill between 1998 and 2004. All three matters are scheduled to be in court in October.

The current trial is being spread out over three more days next week and into September.

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