Nova Scotia

Sydney obstetrician accused of sexual misconduct, incompetence can keep working

An obstetrician at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital facing allegations of sexual misconduct and professional incompetence whose final day of work was supposed to be Friday is now allowed to continue working.

Dr. Manivasan Moodley has found another sponsor, which means he can continue practising medicine

Dr. Manivasan Moodley began working in the obstetrics and gynecology department at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in March 2017. (Holly Conners/CBC)

An obstetrician at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital accused of sexual wrongdoing by two female patients whose final day of work was supposed to be Friday is now allowed to continue working.

On Thursday, the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons announced Dr. Manivasan Moodley would face a hearing over allegations surrounding contact he had with two patients in July 2017.

As a foreign-trained doctor, Moodley is required to work under a supervisor and a sponsor, and pass all Canadian licensing and certification exams before being granted a full licence. Moodley was informed last week his sponsorship was being withdrawn, and his last day of work was supposed to be Friday.

However, the college announced today that another sponsor had come forward, which means Moodley will be able to continue practising medicine.

His hearing over accusations of professional misconduct and incompetence is scheduled to begin next month.

Complainants 'owed safety, freedom from intimidation'

On Thursday night, about 80 people rallied outside the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to show their support for Moodley.

College registrar Dr. Gus Grant said the significant public response to the allegations against Moodley nearly scared off the two female complainants at the heart of the misconduct hearing.

"All would agree that Dr. Moodley is owed due process and the college is going to deliver due process," said Grant.

"All would agree, also, that these women are owed safety, freedom from intimidation and privacy." 

He said the public outcry in support of Moodley failed to consider the complainants' point of view, and that could have derailed the hearing.

Protesters rallied outside the Cape Breton Regional Hospital on Thursday night in support of Moodley. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

"The least fair outcome would be if these allegations were dismissed simply because the complainants chose not to give evidence," Grant said.

However, the complainants are still ready to proceed with the hearing, he said.

The registrar also said it is important to separate Moodley's license troubles from the allegations against him.

Grant said without a sponsor or supervisor, Moodley simply couldn't practice, and the decision to withdraw or step forward as a sponsor is up to those individuals.

'I am a part of this community'

Moodley was not available for an interview, but in an email, said he was grateful for the support of the community, his colleagues and patients.

"I now know for sure that I am part of this community and that as much as I will provide unique care for them, they will stand up for me if ever I am challenged again," Moodley said.

Dr. Margaret Fraser, head of the Cape Breton Medical Staff Association, said she was very pleased with the extension of Moodley's licence.

She said Dr. Jeremy Hilliard had stepped forward to sponsor Moodley and Dr. Angus Gardner has agreed to be his supervisor.

"I think it's the right decision to allow him to continue until the college process has been gone through," Fraser said.

She also said it's not clear if the rally and other public support helped Moodley get his licence renewed.

"I don't know if that had any effect, but certainly it was heartening for Dr. Moodley to see that his patients supported him and that his colleagues supported him in this difficult time."

Dozens of people gathered in front of Cape Breton Regional Hospital on Thursday night to rally in support of Moodley. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Grant said comments on social media had also weighed on the complainants' minds this week.

Although some were in favour of Moodley, others suggested Cape Breton must be desperate for doctors if the community was rallying to support a physician facing serious sexual allegations.

Fraser said that's not a fair comment.

"This man is being judged in the court of public opinion," she said.

"No decision has been made regarding his licensing. No decision has been made regarding his culpability in this matter ... so until the college has gone through its process, it is unfair to judge this man prematurely."

Allegations against Moodley

The college alleges that in the case of one complainant, Moodley commented inappropriately on the patient's appearance, performed a physical exam in a sexualized manner and asked questions of a sexual nature that were not relevant to the medical issues.

In the case of another complainant, the college's allegations include that Moodley unnecessarily requested an internal exam, complimented her on the colour of her underwear and suggested seeing the patient at her home and noted he knew where she lived. The college said Moodley then violated physician-patient boundaries by seeking out the patient at her workplace.


With files from Tom Ayers