Montreal

Montreal dentist found guilty of sexual misconduct banned from practising for 2 years

Dr. Nareg Apelian, who maintains his innocence, is appealing the finding against him, while the Ordre des Dentistes du Québec is seeking a longer suspension.

Dr. Nareg Apelian, who maintains his innocence, is appealing, while order of dentists seeks longer suspension

Dr. Nareg Apelian maintains he is innocent of sexual misconduct and confirms he is appealing the finding against him. (ResearchGate)

A Montreal dentist has been banned from practising for two years after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct by the disciplinary council of the Ordre des Dentistes du Québec.

Last February, that disciplinary council concluded Nareg Apelian had repeatedly touched a former patient's breasts during treatment.

His suspension went into effect last November. 

"I'm disappointed that it was only two years," said the victim, who cannot be named due to a publication ban to protect her identity.

At the time of the incident in November 2016, she was a 21-year-old McGill University student and Apelian's patient at the dental clinic on campus.

Complaining of pain and headaches, she had made an appointment to have her mouthguard adjusted.

Apelian asked her to go to his private clinic in Montreal's Parc-Extension neighbourhood.

After Apelian made some alterations to her mouthguard, she said, the dentist then checked various pressure points, massaging her jaw, neck and shoulders to relieve tension.

Apelian's hands then moved under her sweater where he rubbed her breasts repeatedly, according to the victim's testimony at Apelian's disciplinary hearing.

She said she was too scared to say anything because the door to his clinic was locked, and they were alone there.

The victim told CBC she was disappointed her former dentist, Nareg Apelian, only received a two-year suspension. The order of dentists sought a six-year ban. (submitted by Ross O'Callaghan)

Dentist and ODQ both appealing

In an email to CBC earlier this month, Apelian maintained his innocence and confirmed he is appealing the finding against him.

The Ordre des Dentistes du Québec (ODQ) has also appealed the sentence. The order had sought a six-year ban, and it doesn't believe Apelian's suspension is long enough.

During the sentencing hearing, Apelian said since the incident, he has changed the way he practises. 

He no longer treats chronic pain at his clinic and does not massage or check trigger points.

Someone is also present at the clinic with him when he is treating patients.

Apelian, who was an assistant dentistry professor at McGill, said after the ODQ disciplinary council found him guilty last February, he resigned from that post following a meeting with the dean of dentistry.

Until his suspension at the end of November, Apelian had continued to practise at his private clinic.

Quebec Professions Tribunal will hear appeals

The victim said she believes Apelian got a sentence that was less harsh than it might have been because of his work with underprivileged, economically disadvantaged clients.

With appeals by both the dentist and the ODQ, the victim is concerned the case will drag on for many more months.

"Honestly, it's astonishing," she said. "It's hard to understand why something like this takes so long."

She describes the entire process, from the filing of her complaint through to the disciplinary council hearing, as draining and demoralizing.

During the trial, she said, Apelian's lawyers asked personal questions about her mental health history.

She doesn't regret coming forward, but she admits the process has taken a toll.

"It was very belittling," she said.

The appeals will be heard by Quebec Professions Tribunal. A spokesperson said it could take months to set a date.

About the Author

Leah Hendry is a TV, radio and online journalist with CBC Montreal Investigates. Contact her via our confidential tipline: 514-597-5155 or on email at montrealinvestigates@cbc.ca.

With files from Anna Sosnowski