British Columbia

Lawsuits claim Vancouver psychiatrist deceived care aides into sexual acts

Six women who claim they were employed as personal care aides are suing a disabled Vancouver psychiatrist for allegedly deceiving them into giving him sexual gratification.

B.C. Supreme Court suits claim Dr. John Allan James Christensen hired women as home care aides

Six women have filed B.C. Supreme Court lawsuits against Dr. John Allan James Christensen claiming the psychiatrist deceived them into giving him sexual gratification. (David Horemans/CBC)

Six women who claim they were employed as personal care aides are suing a disabled Vancouver psychiatrist for allegedly deceiving them into giving him sexual gratification.

The women all filed lawsuits in B.C. Supreme Court last week against Dr. John Allan James Christensen.

According to their notices of civil claim, Christensen is a quadriplegic "and hires personal care aides in order to assist him with his daily needs."

The women claim they worked for Christensen for lengths of time varying from nine months to just two shifts during 2016, 2017 and 2018.

All say they found out about the job through Craigslist or UBC's CareersOnline portal.

Three of the women claim Christensen told them during their interviews that in order to relieve pain from his arms, they would need to either squeeze or apply pressure to his testicles as part of their job.

"He referred to this method as the 'Pain Gate Theory," the court documents read.

'This sexual act was inappropriate'

According the court documents, the women claim they were told to massage Christensen's testicles as he lay naked on his bed.

Four of the women claim they were asked to apply hot oil. Three of the plaintiffs say they were also instructed to rub his penis.

The six women have filed their notices of civil claim against Dr. John Allan James Christensen in B.C. Supreme Court. (David Horemans/CBC)

All six of the claims were filed by the same law firm and use identical language to describe the alleged concerns about the intimate procedures the women were allegedly asked to perform.

"The plaintiff was unaware that this sexual act was inappropriate and is not a medical procedure," the claims read.

"She trusted what the defendant told her, as he was a doctor."

Christensen has not filed any responses to the lawsuits, but according to Naz Kohan, the lawyer for the women, he has been served with the notices of civil claim.

Kohan said the women have also filed complaints with B.C.'s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The college would not disclose any information about Christensen except to say that he has no history of discipline.

According to the organization's website, his registration is inactive at present.

'Deep inequality of power'

Christensen lives in Kitsilano on the West Side of Vancouver. A care aide answered the door this week, but said the psychiatrist was in a meeting. He did not respond to a phone call.

One of the women claims that approximately 30 individuals worked for Christensen during the eight months she was employed before resigning.

Another claims that part of her job entailed checking his email and reading correspondence regarding personal aide positions.

"The defendant told the plaintiff that when an email came in, the plaintiff had to search the sender's name in Google and see whether the sender was a female or a male," the woman's notice of civil claim reads.

"If the sender was a male, the defendant told the plaintiff to delete that email."

The women all claim they have sustained anxiety and insomnia as a result of what they say is sexual battery, because Christensen coerced them to engage in sexual acts without their express or implied consent.

One woman claims she has had a relapse into bulimia and five of the women claim to have suffered nightmares.

They claim that a "deep inequality of power existed" between themselves and the psychiatrist based on Christensen's professional knowledge and their "relative ignorance" of medical procedures.

The women are seeking unspecified damages.

None of the allegations against Christensen has been proven in court. 

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.