'No accountability': Pharmacist continued to work while charged with sexual assault

An Alberta pharmacist wanted on a Canada-wide warrant continued to see clients for 18 months after he was charged with the sexual assault and unlawful confinement of a minor.

Alberta College of Pharmacy found out when victim’s parents filed complaint

Sinan Hadi is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after he was convicted of sexual assault and unlawful confinement. (Edmonton Police Service)

An Alberta pharmacist wanted on a Canada-wide warrant continued to see clients for 18 months after he was charged with the sexual assault and unlawful confinement of a minor.

Sinan Hadi, 36, didn't disclose his criminal charges to the Alberta College of Pharmacy, or to his employer in the town of Gibbons, just north of Edmonton, public records from the college show.

"It's mind blowing to me," said Marina Shenfield, a client of Gibbons Guardian Pharmacy where Hadi worked.

"[Pharmacists] are in positions of power, and they have access to people's personal information," she said. "You probably wouldn't want someone who's been charged with sexually assaulting a minor to have that."

She called on the college to enact stronger regulations to protect patients from pharmacists who are charged with criminal offences, including asking for regular criminal record checks.

Criminal conviction

Hadi was involved in a motor vehicle accident with a teenage girl on Sept. 24, 2016, the Edmonton Police Service said. He convinced the girl to get into his vehicle, drove her to multiple locations, and sexually assaulted her. 

He was charged the next day and on March 16, 2018, was convicted of sexual assault and unlawful confinement of a minor, according to provincial court documents.  

He didn't surrender his passport as ordered, and didn't attend his court mandated pre-sentence appointments, the documents show.  

Hadi wasn't present in court when he was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2018. Police have confirmed that Hadi is still wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. 

Shenfield learned about Hadi's criminal conviction in August, when the police issued a news release asking for help locating him.

She was shocked to learn that his charges dated from 2016.

"I had seen him in the pharmacy since then," she said.

Self-reporting policy 

Hadi should have disclosed his criminal charges to the ACP as per the college's code of ethics. 

Instead, the college found out about the criminal charges about 18 months after they were laid, when the victim's parents filed a complaint with them in April 2018, documents show.

Hadi was already missing when the college held a hearing into his conduct on Sept. 19, 2018. 

Shenfield, who studies journalism at MacEwan University in Edmonton, attended the hearing.

Journalism student Marina Shenfield wants stronger safeguards to ensure that clients are protected from pharmacists who are charged with criminal offences. (Marina Shenfield )

She was disturbed to learn that the college expects pharmacists who have been criminally charged to self-report the information.

"There's no accountability there," Shenfield said. "Unless the college receives a complaint, they don't do any kind of recurrent criminal background checks. I just think that's ridiculous."

Shenfield wrote an article about her findings in The Griff, MacEwan's student magazine. 

"I had faith in the system, that people who were charged or convicted with that kind of thing wouldn't be able to see patients," Shenfield told CBC. 

"When I found out there were so little safeguards against it, it was crazy to me."

College investigates

Hadi's case is concerning, but the college's self-reporting policy does work, registrar Greg Eberhart said in an emailed statement.

"We believe this process has worked well for us," he said. "We are continuously reviewing our policies and procedures so that we may better protect the public's safety, health, and well-being.

"In the case of Mr. Hadi, immediately upon ACP becoming aware of the matter we initiated a formal complaint and began an investigation."

The ACP began disciplinary proceedings at that time, and Hadi's practice permit was suspended pending the outcome. 

The college revoked Hadi's registration after finding him guilty of concealing his criminal charges from his employer and the college. 

The college does require a criminal record check for pharmacists that are registering for the first time.

"ACP exercises additional diligence by annually auditing a random selection of registrations to validate registration information and supporting documentation," Eberhart said. 

But Shenfield wants the college to require a criminal record check at regular intervals.

"There needs to be something in place, this can't continue," she said.

About the Author

Josee St-Onge

Journalist

Josee St-Onge is a journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has also reported in French for Radio-Canada in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Reach her at josee.st-onge@cbc.ca