New U of A psychiatry chair facing sexual misconduct allegation

The University of Alberta's new head of psychiatry is facing an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a female patient in Ontario.

Dr. Claudio Soares, who formerly worked in Hamilton, started new job on Sept. 1

Sexual misconduct allegation

CBC News: Edmonton at 6:00

9 years ago
The University of Alberta's new head of psychiatry is facing an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a female patient in Ontario. 2:14

The University of Alberta's new head of psychiatry is facing an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a female patient in Ontario.

Documents obtained by CBC News indicate the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons will hold a hearing into the allegation that Dr. Claudio de Novaes Soares had sexual relations with a woman who was a patient between November 2007 and May 2009. At that time, he was a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.

A date for the hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Dr. Claudio Soares became head of the University of Alberta's psychiatry department on Sept. 1. (McMaster University)

"It is alleged that Dr. Soares engaged in the following with respect to a female patient," the college stated in an Aug. 7 public notification. "Touching of a sexual nature towards the patient, kissing, fellatio of Dr. Soares by the patient, sexual intercourse with the patient, and/or other forms of physical sexual relations."

The college also noted in its public release that Soares failed to "fully co-operate with a college investigator," including by failing to provide records and other documentation the college requested.

None of the claims have been proven by the Ontario college.

The University of Alberta's interim dean of the faculty of medicine, Verna Yiu, announced Soares' hiring as the new psychiatry department head on June 14, and Soares assumed the position Sept. 1.

A spokesperson told CBC News the faculty is aware of the allegation against Soares and is determining its next steps.

Soares is currently on leave from his position, said Jo-anne Nugent.

While at McMaster, Soares was the associate chair of research in the department of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences. He was also director of the Women's Health Concerns Clinic.

Soares' biography states his research career has been focused on mood and anxiety disturbances related to the female reproductive life cycle.

Ontario college restricted medical licence

The Ontario college imposed restrictions on Soares' medical licence effective Aug. 7, including that he is not allowed to be alone with "female patients of any age, in any jurisdiction, unless the patient encounter takes place in the presence of a female regulated health professional."

The college also noted Soares is only allowed to practise medicine at McMaster "to the extent required by the teaching or research requirements of the appointment."

Soares agreed to the restrictions imposed by the Ontario college.

A spokeswoman with the college said she could not discuss specific cases, but said it notifies all colleges of physicians and surgeons across North American whenever a restriction is placed on a physician's licence.

In an email, an Ontario college spokesperson said it does not notify other provinces about outstanding allegations against doctors.

Barbara Krahn, of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, told CBC News that Soares is not yet registered with the college, but he should be.

"All physicians in Alberta practising in any capacity, including academic medicine, do need to be registered with this college," she said.

"Patient safety is our number 1 concern so with every application, no matter what capacity, the process includes a review of any disciplinary actions in any Canadian jurisdiction as well as any American jurisdiction," Krahn said.

"We have no jurisdiction over any physician that isn't registered with us. However, having said that, a physician who is practising here does need a permit from us."

Dr. Trevor Theman, the Alberta college's registrar, was surprised to learn Soares had been appointed dean of psychiatry for the University of Alberta.

"I think it frankly would be impossible for somebody not to be registered with us to be the chair of a clinical department like psychiatry," he told CBC News.