Judge reserves decision in trial for Alberta pediatrician charged with sexual assault

Pediatrician Dr. Ramneek Kumar is accused of sexually assaulting the nine-year-old daughter of a family friend while the two families were on vacation in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2015. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Dr. Ramneek Kumar is accused of sexually assaulting 9-year-old girl in 2015

Dr. Ramneek Mohinder Kumar will hear the judge's decision on November 17. He is charged with sexually assaulting a girl, who was not a patient, in August 2015. (Submitted, name withheld)

UPDATE (added Nov. 17, 2020): Alberta pediatrician found not guilty of sexually assaulting 9-year-old girl

An Alberta pediatrician will find out Nov. 17 if a judge believes he sexually assaulted a nine-year old girl. 

Dr. Ramneek Kumar was practising in St. Albert at the time of the alleged incidents. The complainant was the daughter of a family friend and was not a patient. Kumar has been charged with sexual assault and unlawful touching of a person under the age of 16.

In August 2015, the child's family and the Kumars were vacationing together in Waterton Lakes National Park. 

During the trial, the girl — who is now 14 — testified she was touched by Kumar several times when no one else was around.

The teen testified that soon after the group of 11 arrived at the large rented cabin in Waterton, Kumar followed her to an upstairs bedroom and touched her shoulders and chest area. 

She said similar incidents took place in the kitchen and then again in a change room at a local pool. 

She testified that in the change room, Kumar touched her hair and chest area before warning her not to tell anyone because she'd be teased if people found out she couldn't change out of a bathing suit on her own. 

"She was a good witness," defence lawyer Alain Hepner admitted during his arguments. "She was not a shrinking violet." 

Her identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban. 

Kumar also took the stand in his own defence and denied any inappropriate sexual touching. 

"Dr. Kumar was unshaken, solid," Hepner told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vaughan Hartigan in Lethbridge court Monday afternoon. "He was a reliable, believable witness." 

Defence lawyer Alain Hepner argued Monday that his client should be acquitted on a charge of sexual assault. ((CBC))

The defence lawyer said that at the very least, he believes Kumar's testimony should raise a reasonable doubt and the judge should find him not guilty. 

In a written brief, Hepner suggested it strains credibility to think that a doctor would risk his profession and reputation by touching a nine-year-old girl. 

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta suspended Kumar's licence to practise in May 2019, but a Court of Queen's Bench judge overturned that decision a couple of months later, allowing the doctor to resume seeing patients as long as there was a chaperone present.

According to the college's website, Kumar is currently practising pediatrics at a Calgary clinic. 

He was present in court Monday afternoon along with his wife.

An issue of credibility 

Both the Crown and defence said it will be up to the judge to decide whose version of events he should believe. 

Prosecutor Darwyn Ross suggested the judge should dismiss Kumar's version of events based on contradictory evidence given by Crown witnesses, including the girl's father. 

The father told court that a few weeks after the alleged incident, his daughter told him Kumar was a "monster" but refused to elaborate.

"This is a young girl, nine years old, who took some time to figure it out, understand it," Ross told the court. "Her motivation was seeing a documentary [about abuse] that sparked some strength inside. So she was ready to tell her family." 

Charges were laid in 2019.

Ross said the girl has since received counselling and medications. He said she's experienced wetting the bed, being distant and moody. 

Now, he said she's motivated to put it behind her. 

The girl and her family were not in court for the closing arguments. 

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

With files from the CBC's Meghan Grant