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Woman testifies doctor asked about her personal life before assault

Under cross-examination, the complainant agreed stress in her personal life might’ve aggravated the condition Ukabam was treating.

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She was in shock about what had just happened — about where she’d felt the doctor’s touch. And then he asked if he could give her a hug.


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“When I was pulling my pants on, he turned around and said I looked sad,” the 66-year-year old Regina woman testified Friday during Day 5 of the trial of former gastroenterologist Sylvester Ukabam.

He pleaded not guilty to seven charges of sexual assault alleged by five former patients when the trial opened at Regina’s Court of Queen’s Bench Monday.

The fifth complainant to testify, who like the others cannot be named due to a standard publication ban, told court she met Ukabam about 12 years ago, coming under his care for a health condition aligning with his specialty.

During the last year or two that he was her doctor, she said his questions came to include her personal life, which she found odd.

And it was during a scheduled June 2014 appointment that the alleged assault occurred, she said.

Due to a “substantial amount of pain” from “widespread inflammation,” she wasn’t surprised when the doctor sent her across the hall to an examination room. She expected he would check her abdomen and potentially give her a rectal exam.

But she recalled being asked to “go on all fours” and put her head down — a position she said she hadn’t been asked to assume during past exams.

Though it made her nervous, she didn’t question the request.

“I was the patient, he was the doctor. He was the expert. He was a trusted, well-established physician in his field.”

Then, she said, the doctor touched her “vagina area” for about 10 seconds before inserting a “gloved, lubricated finger” into her vagina for 30 seconds, after which she felt vulnerable.


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She was not informed this would happen, nor was she given a reason for it afterward, she said.

The experience caused her to seek counselling for feelings of sadness, frustration and disappointment.

And while she said she later contacted the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, no further action was taken until the police called in late 2017 or early 2018 and told her “another victim had come forward.”

She testified that police asked if she would be willing to lay charges, to which she responded she would.

Not unlike cross-examination of complainants on Monday , Tuesday , Wednesday and Thursday , defence lawyer Aaron Fox explored the woman’s memory and health history, including medication.

She confirmed to Fox that stress in her personal life, asked about by the doctor, might aggravate her health condition. But she’d found some of his comments odd or offensive.

Did she convey to the doctor that he could give her the hug she spoke of?

She did, she told Fox, but added she was afraid and in shock.

The defence lawyer keyed in on inconsistency between her testimony Friday and what she’d said when questioned in the past.

She acknowledged that what Fox termed “the passage of time” had made recalling some details difficult, but she questioned the relevance of certain points.

Fox suggested the woman was mistaken about the doctor inserting a finger in her vagina, before asking whether it was possible the sensation she described as the assault was pressure from a rectal exam.


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“The finger was in my vagina,” she said. “There’s no question.”

“A finger you didn’t see? A finger that you say you felt?” the defence lawyer asked.

Yes, such a feeling cannot be “misconstrued,” she said.

Prior to adjournment, Crown prosecutor Jackie Lane asked the woman why she had been holding her hand against the plexiglass barrier on the witness stand during cross-examination.

“So I wouldn’t have to see his face,” she replied, referring to Ukabam, who was sitting across the room.

“Because it causes me pain.”

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