Edmonton pediatrician facing child pornography charges allowed to resume seeing patients

Dr. Ghassan Al-Naami must abide by conditions including having an approved chaperone in attendance for all patient encounters.

Dr. Ghassan Al-Naami must abide by terms including a chaperone during visits

Dr. Ghassan Al-Naami, photographed in early 2017 while working in Fort McMurray, Alta. (David Thurton/CBC)

An Edmonton pediatrician charged with child pornography offences will be allowed to see patients again, providing he abides by certain conditions, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta said Thursday.

Dr. Ghassan Al-Naami was arrested in 2019 following an investigation by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. He was charged with the possession and transmission of child pornography.

In a Thursday news release, the college outlined terms for Al-Naami's return to practice. These include having an approved chaperone who is a regulated health professional in attendance for all patient encounters, whether in-person or virtual and regardless of the presence of a guardian.

"Signage, stating the above condition, must also be visible in his office," said the release.

After his arrest, Al-Naami was released from custody under court-ordered release conditions, including instruction that he not continue employment in a position of trust or authority toward anyone under 16.

He also signed an undertaking with the college that he would withdraw from practice.

However, the Court of Queen's Bench issued a decision on July 16, 2021, that determined the college had not reasonably reconsidered a later request from Al-Naami to revoke the withdrawal.

The court directed the college to determine whether, and how, Al-Naami could return to practice.

In addition to the chaperone, Al-Naami is not allowed to ask or accept any electronic photo or video file of any patient, or record any virtual encounters with patients. 

He is also required to provide a letter to all scheduled parents, guardians, patients and referring health-care providers that clearly states these conditions.

Al-Naami has pleaded not guilty and a criminal trial is scheduled for January 2022.

ALERT investigation

The charges stem from an April 2019 incident involving child pornography being allegedly uploaded to the internet.

ALERT's Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit was notified about the images by the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre that July.

ALERT said in its initial news release that there was no indication that any offences were committed against children in Al-Naami's care.

He was previously a physician at the Bright Futures Clinic at 113th Avenue and 95th Street in Edmonton. 

Al-Naami also was a pediatrician in Fort McMurray from 2012 until early 2017.