30 days in jail for Edmonton doctor convicted of sexual assault

Dr. Ismail Taher was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail after being convicted of sexual assault. He also received a suspended sentence for common assault. Both incidents involved Taher's co-workers at separate Medicentres.

Dr. Ismail Taher will be on probation for two years after completing sentence

Dr. Ismail Taher leaves court with his wife while awaiting sentencing for sexual assault and assault convictions. (Janice Johnston/CBC)

An Edmonton doctor was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail after being convicted last month of sexually assaulting a nurse at a Medicentre in 2013.

"I am imposing a short jail term because I know it will have a profound effect on Dr. Taher and his family," provincial court Judge Greg Lepp said in his sentencing remarks Wednesday.

"Dr. Taher has been blessed with all of life's advantages," Lepp continued. "He abused his position for selfish, prurient and unwholesome reasons.  He had no excuse. There is no remorse shown here."

After he completes his jail term, Taher will be on probation for two years, Lepp said. He will be allowed to serve his sentence intermittently on weekends.

Taher received a two-year suspended sentence on a second conviction for common assault against a female manager at another Edmonton Medicentre.

Crown prosecutor Laurie Trahan had sought a three- to six-month jail sentence, followed by two years probation and mandatory counselling. "These incidents were not trifling," Trahan told Lepp earlier Wednesday. "They were intentional."

But Lepp declined to order counselling. He said he believes the jail sentence will teach Taher, whom he described as an intelligent person, that his behaviour is not to be repeated.

The sexual assault conviction marks the second time Taher has been found guilty of that charge. He was convicted last year of sexually assaulting a teenage patient. 

In June of this year, Taher, 38, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a nurse in the summer of 2013 at an Edmonton Medicentre, and assaulting a female manager at a different Medicentre.

The married father of four young girls was found to have touched the nurse's breast twice and pinched her buttocks. The manager was also touched inappropriately, but the trial judge had a reasonable doubt about the sexual nature of touching, so convicted Taher of assault.  

The trial judge, Shelagh Creagh, said she believed both victims who testified about their ordeals and found Taher to be "misleading, disingenuous and purposely ambiguous."

One of the women Taher assaulted filed a victim impact statement that was read aloud by the prosecutor at the sentencing hearing.

The victim, who cannot be identified wrote, "I came to work feeling happy and normal. Something happened that day which changed me. Dr. Taher sexually assaulted me. He touched me inappropriately and without my consent."

Ismail Taher (Facebook)

The woman said after Taher touched her breast and pinched her buttocks she wondered, "What could I have possibly done wrong to deserve this?  

"I was a happy person. But after that day, I was emotionally shattered."  

Taher's victims were not in court for the sentencing hearing.  

Doctor convicted last year of sexually assaulting teenage patient

Last year Taher was sentenced to 12 months probation after being convicted of sexually assaulting a female teenage patient. The court has been told he voluntarily stopped treating patients in May 2015, but he continues to own and manage a medical clinic in north Edmonton.  

Taher's lawyer said media attention has had "a significant impact" on his business and has resulted in a drop in patients at his clinic.  

Defence lawyer Eamon O'Keeffe said media attention has created a hardship for Taher.  

"His reputation has taken a hit," O'Keeffe said, "and he's been humiliated.  It's on the internet, so it will basically be there forever."   

When Taher left the courthouse, he became angry with a CBC reporter who took his picture.  

Taher's wife put her hand in front of the camera in an attempt to block the next shot, then tried to wrestle the camera out of the reporter's hand. The couple later apologized to the reporter.

Taher's lawyer had asked the judge to consider "who Dr. Taher is and what Dr. Taher means to the community."

O'Keeffe suggested the physician should be given a suspended non-custodial sentence and placed on probation.

He told the judge Taher still faces disciplinary action from the College of Physicians and Surgeons and that it's "not a certainty he'll be allowed to continue practicing medicine."