Saskatchewan

Former Regina doctor accused of sexual assault says he was shocked by complaints

A former Regina doctor accused of sexually assaulting five female patients has testified he was surprised and shocked by the complaints against him.

5 women say Sylvester Ukabam sexually assaulted them

Sylvester Ukabam, right, is shown at Court of Queen's Bench in Regina on Monday, Jan.10, 2022. Ukabam, a 76-year-old former doctor, is accused of sexually assaulting patients during medical exams between 2010 and 2017. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts. (Mickey Djuric/The Canadian Press)

A former Regina doctor accused of sexually assaulting five female patients has testified he was surprised and shocked by the complaints against him.

Sylvester Ukabam, 76, faces seven counts of sexual assault that allegedly occurred between December 2010 and April 2017.

Ukabam, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, took the stand Tuesday in his own defence at his trial in Regina Court of Queen's Bench. He is being tried by judge alone.

The Crown alleges Ukabam sexually assaulted five women during medical exams he did as a gastroenterologist — a doctor who deals with disorders of the stomach and intestines.

A publication ban prohibits any of the complainants from being named.

Ukabam, who mostly referred to medical records during his testimony, answered questions from his lawyer, Aaron Fox, about the medication one of the complainants was on and the procedures the doctor followed during physical exams.

The Crown alleges the woman was sexually assaulted by Ukabam during medical exams and never gave the woman an explanation for the touching. During opening arguments earlier this month, the Crown emphasized the woman did not consent to Ukabam touching her genitals.

Fox spent most of Tuesday asking Ukabam about his professional relationship with the woman, including her medical appointments related to her ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, which Ukabam was treating.

Never touched patient without consent: Ukabam

Ukabam testified he never touched her without her consent. He also said she never raised any concerns to him or others before 2015 about the level of care she was receiving. Documents submitted to court show the woman had 13 appointments with Ukabam over several years at his medical office and the Regina General Hospital.

Ukabam also said chest and abdomen exams were part of his job to check for any enlargement of organs. He said he used both his hands and a stethoscope for the examinations.

Fox also questioned Ukabam about a second complainant, a long-term Crohn's disease patient, whom he had seen for 15 years.

The Crown said she came forward after her last appointment with Ukabam in 2017 after he had given her an unwanted pelvic exam and touched her genitals without her consent.

Ukabam had a similar reaction to her allegations as he did with the other women.

"I was shocked," Ukabam said. "I was very much shocked."

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