Kitchener-Waterloo

Woman sues former Kitchener neurologist accused of sexually assaulting 63 patients

Former Kitchener neurologist Jeffrey Sloka is now facing a lawsuit from one of the female patients he's accused of sexually assaulting. 

Woman could not find another neurologist for treatment after alleged assault

Former Kitchener neurologist Jeffrey Sloka is now facing a civil lawsuit from one of his alleged victims. The woman was a patient for seven years and is seeking $300,000 for general, exemplary and punitive damages. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Former Kitchener neurologist Jeffrey Sloka is now facing a lawsuit from one of the 63 female patients he's accused of sexually assaulting. 

The patient is suing for general damages amounting to $200,000, aggravated and exemplary damages amounting to $50,000 and punitive damages in the amount of $50,000. Court documents also show the woman plans to claim for special damages, but the amount has not yet been determined. 

Her identity is protected, as an alleged victim of sexual assault.

When her case went before the College of Physicians and Surgeons in April, Sloka offered no defence to the allegations. The allegations have not been proven in a court of law. 

In the statement of claim, the woman said she had been a patient of Sloka's for seven years. She had been referred to his clinic after "experiencing tingling from the waist down." 

Under Sloka's care for 7 years

Though she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the documents say Sloka touched her breasts in a "sexual manner," saying he needed to "check for lumps." The breast exam was not recorded in the woman's medical file and she recalls feeling "uncomfortable and violated." 

The woman said she had no choice but to continue as Sloka's patient because, according to the statement of claim, she was "in desperate need" of treatment and she could not find another specialist to treat her multiple sclerosis. 

The statement of claim was filed on Nov. 8 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Sloka had 20 days to file a statement of defense. As of Dec. 11, he had not. 

Sloka continued to treat the woman until October 2017, when she learned of the sexual assault allegations and filed a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. 

'Violation of public trust': lawyer

Jordan Assaraf, a personal injury lawyer who has helped other patients sue their assailants, says there's an "extreme power imbalance between a professional and their patient."

"It puts the patient at extreme vulnerability ... not only that, it's also a violation of public trust," Assaraf said. 

The statement of claim says the woman has since developed "severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of confidence, loss of self-esteem and chronic feelings of powerlessness as a result of the sexual assault inflicted upon her."

It also says the woman struggled to find another neurologist to take her on as a patient after Sloka lost his medical licence. 

"As a result, her multiple sclerosis relapsed, which affected her eyesight and required multiple hospital [visits]."

Patients of specialists in 'desperate state of mind'

Cases involving medical specialists are especially traumatic, said Assaraf, because patients are in a desperate state of mind. 

They go to the specialist often "as a last resort" he said.

Any abuse of that relationship can damage the trust that patient has in all medical professions permanently, he says. 

Criminologist Rashmee Singh, who teaches at the University of Waterloo, says our society is one where we are expected to trust authority figures.

"We're in positions where we just have to take their words at face value," she said.

She said it can take time for victims to process what happened.

Former Kitchener neurologist Jeffery Sloka has now been charged with more than 60 sexual assaults. All of them, patients. All of them, women -- ranging in age from 17 to 51. One of them has now decided to sue for damages. Personal injury lawyer Jordan Assaraf explains why. 5:43

With files from the CBC's Paula Duhatschek