Toronto police have charged a 32-year-old doctor after he allegedly sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl.
Investigators say Ernest Chiu, a nephrologist, responded to an escort ad for sex in Dec. 2016. Over the following months, police allege Chiu met with the teenager in different Toronto hotels and paid to have unprotected sex with her.
"Members of our human trafficking enforcement team began an investigation into the trafficking of a 15-year-old girl. During that investigation they became aware of this man and further investigated his involvement," Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray told CBC Toronto.
"We are alleging that he procured sex from her knowing that she was 15," Gray said.
On one occasion, Chiu requested the girl visit him at Toronto General Hospital where he worked, and they allegedly had sex in Chiu's office.
Gray said investigators believe he would prescribe the girl birth control and inject her with the medication.
Ernest Chiu is associated with St. Michael's Hospital and the Sinai Health System as well as the following University Health Network facilities in Toronto:
- Toronto General Hospital
- Toronto Western Hospital
- Princess Margaret Hospital
- Toronto Rehab
However, Chiu's medical profile on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) website shows that his medical license expired in June 2017 and has not been renewed.
Nonetheless, the CPSO says they are conducting an investigation into Chiu's alleged misconduct.
"Former members of the CPSO continue to be subject to the jurisdiction of the College for professional misconduct or incompetence that may have occurred during the time when they were a member," a spokesperson told CBC Toronto.
Chiu could face a public reprimand, a fine up to $35,000 and/or payment for patient counselling and therapy if a disciplinary committee finds the doctor guilty of professional misconduct, the college says.
The University Health Network told CBC Toronto that Chiu has not worked at any of their hospitals since the summer of 2017.
Both UHN and St. Michael's Hospital say they are upset by the news and are co-operating with Toronto police in their investigation.
'We are shocked'
"We are shocked by the allegations, which are inconsistent with our values and our expectations that everyone who works at St. Michael's, including trainees, adheres to the highest possible standards of behaviour in both their personal and professional lives," the hospital added in an email.
Chiu is facing four charges, including sexual interference, obtaining sexual services from a person under 18 and sexual assault.
None of the charges against Chiu have been proven in court.
The allegations against him have caused alarm because of his position of power as a doctor but Gray says this situation is not unheard of.
"Any of our investigators at the human trafficking enforcement team would tell you that the individuals they come in contact with, whether its because they are responsible for trafficking young girls or procuring those services from them come from all walks of life, from every socio-economic background, every professional level, every ethnicity," Gray said in an interview.
Anti-trafficking advocate Carly Kalish says there are many stereotypes surrounding men who solicit the services of sex workers in Toronto.
'It could happen in our backyards'
"Often we think of people who are buying sex as slimy, scummy," said the counsellor at East Metro Youth Services, "but really it could be anyone."
Kalish adds that there is a misconception that women who are sex-trafficked are often brought in from other countries but in reality, domestic human trafficking is the most common in Toronto.
"It could happen in our backyards. No borders need to be crossed; no boundaries need to be crossed."
Kalish says she has heard hundreds of stories of young girls being targetted as sex worker recruits through her work at East Metro Youth Services
"We get phone calls of parents saying, 'Help this is happening to my daughter.' It's commonplace."