Sarnia doctor charged with sexual assault, history of convictions, investigation

Sarnia doctor Kunwar Raj Singh has been arrested for something that happened more than 35 years ago — but it’s not his first time under investigation.

In February 1991, Singh was convicted of six counts of indecent assault and ten counts of sexual assault

Kunwar Raj Singh, pictured here in after his 1991 convictions, has required a female chaperone when practicing medicine since 2003. (Ken Faught/Toronto Star)

Sarnia doctor Kunwar Raj Singh has been arrested for something that happened more than 35 years ago — but it's not his first time under investigation.

In October, police began investigating an alleged sexual assault of a victim who was 15 years old at the time. 

On Wednesday, 76-year-old Singh, a practicing pediatrician, was charged with one count of indecent assault on a female. The assault occurred in 1982.

Previous convictions

In February 1991, Singh was convicted of six counts of indecent assault and ten counts of sexual assault which occurred between 1974 and 1990. He received a suspended sentence and two years of probation — but was allowed to keep practicing.

Court records show these assaults were mainly against hospital staff, but at least two instances were mothers of patients.

Less than a year later — November 1991 — Singh was disciplined again for professional misconduct. His license was suspended for two years, which was reduced to six months.

Singh applied to become a doctor in Trinidad and Tobago in January 1992 — an application that was denied after his office staff altered his medical certificate to hide the 1991 convictions. 

The story doesn't end there.

August of 1994, Singh was again disciplined for professional misconduct and his license was suspended for six months. After taking a medical ethics course, that suspension was dropped to just three months. 

There's a gap in Singh's timeline where he appears to have stayed out of trouble, but in January 2013 the Sarnia doctor was restricted to practice only pediatrics. He was also not allowed to have any in-person encounters with female patients or female parents of patients except when chaperoned. 

Chaperone required

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Singh has required a chaperone since 2003.

"The chaperones have been female regulated health professionals, who have been fully informed of Dr. Singh's discipline history prior to accepting this responsibility," said the College in a statement.

"Dr. Singh is also required to post a sign in his office notifying patients that he will only see female patients and female parents/caregivers of patients in the presence of another registered health professional."

All doctors in Ontario must be members of the College in order to practice medicine. (Marius Picos)

All doctors in Ontario must be members of the College in order to practice medicine. According to its website, the College regulates the practice of medicine to "protect and serve the public interest."

How the College regulates has changed since 1991 — and it now says that any doctor convicted of sexual assault will automatically lose their license.

"We've made a lot of progress in terms of the ways we address these issues," said Shae Greenfield, communications advisor for College.  "We do not have the ability to reopen a case."

The College says they are "better positioned" to protect the public now, compared to 1991. 

"Although we are unable to go back and re-prosecute historic disciplinary cases, we are confident that we are better positioned today to best protect the public in cases that come before us," the College statement said.

Greenfield had no details on how many doctors practicing may have troubled histories like Singh's. 

"This is the only one I know of," said Greenfield. "I'm not aware of another case like this."

Doctors required to self-notify College of trouble

Under current legislation, physicians are required to notify the College of any convictions or allegations against them. 

"If something like this were to happen today, with this additional charge to the member, the member is required under legislation to notify the college," said Greenfield.

On Tuesday, the College had not yet been informed of the new charge against Singh. 

Ontario still abides by the Medicine Act of 1991, the main body of legislation which makes no reference to assault — sexual or otherwise. 

Bill 87, a 2017 amendment made to the Regulated Health Professions Act which governs all regulated health professions in Ontario (nurses, doctors, dentists) does expand the grounds for "mandatory revocation" of a license for a member who has sexually abused a patient. 

The Health Professions Procedural Code only calls "abusing a patient verbally or physically" grounds for professional misconduct.

1991 decision

The College committee notes from 1991, when deciding if Singh could continue to practice after his convictions, calls Singh a "leader in medical education endeavours," noting he had participated in volunteer activities and had been nominated as citizen of the year in his community. 

The committee's 1991 decision advised Singh of the "danger to his career" for recurrence. After this decision he was disciplined at least four more times.

The notes also say there was no direct evidence that Singh's actions had caused harm to the women involved. 

"This case does not fit into the category of sexual violation or exploitation of a patient/doctor relationship," the notes say, which "weighed significantly" in the committee's decision to not revoke Singh's license. 

Offences for which Singh was convicted included unwanted breast, leg and buttock touching, forced kissing, exposing his penis and suggestive remarks.

Committee notes from the 1991 decision against Dr. Kunwar Raj Singh.

The committee also said it was "unlikely that any future harm would occur," and did not mandate Singh for therapy.

The College confirmed that Singh, in addition to being monitored by the College, has been under active investigation as well but could not confirm when the recent investigation by the college began.