Toronto dentist broke rules, had sex with patient, fathered child but still practising: regulator

Toronto dentist broke rules, had sex with patient, fathered child but still practising: regulator
Toronto dentist broke rules, had sex with patient, fathered child but still practising: regulator 6 February 2023 05:47 PM: An uptown Toronto dentist could have his licence revoked for allegedly getting into a two-year extra-marital affair with a woman soon after she became his patient, and having a child with her —  something a disciplinary panel with his professional college has called "sexual abuse."

In a decision issued in January, the panel with the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) found that conduct would be considered "disgraceful, dishonourable, unethical or unprofessional" by others in the profession. Now, the case is moving to a penalty phase where Dr. Amir Haydarian could face fines, a revocation of his licence or other measures.

However, until that decision is made, he can continue to see patients at his Mount Pleasant Dental Centre under certain conditions. His website notes that "new patients are now welcome."

Through a statement from his lawyer to CBC News, Haydarian said he plans to appeal the decision.

The disciplinary hearings began in January 2022 over allegations he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient, and that he'd loaned money to a second patient. Both acts were alleged by the college to be in violation of provincial law and professional rules.

The first patient, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified to the disciplinary panel that Haydarian, 57, used patient records to find her cell phone and invited her to visit his farm. When she would visit him for treatment, she said, he would play love songs in Farsi and would touch her face and breasts. 

Later in the relationship, she told the panel, they would meet for sexual intercourse in the apartment above the dental office in North Toronto.

According to provincial law, dentists are strictly forbidden from engaging in any kind of sexual relations with any patient who is not their spouse.

Marriage a key issue for the regulator

Both the dentist and the patient acknowledged they engaged in a sexual relationship. At issue was whether Haydarian was married at the time — and to whom.

The panel heard when the dentist met the woman in question, he was married to another woman. Haydarian claims to have divorced the first woman in a ceremony-by-proxy in Iran, in which the wife need not be present or even notified, where only his brother was in attendance. Haydarian also claimed to have, just hours after the divorce was granted, entered into a marriage with the woman who was his patient. 

She denied ever marrying him and the panel found in her favour in its final decision. 

In June 2022, the Crown withdrew all 15 criminal charges against Haydarian, citing serious concerns with the credibility of the main complainant. (Amir Haydarian/Facebook)

Therefore, it deemed he was married to the original woman, and thus in an extramarital sexual affair with a patient or, as the panel put it, he "sexually abused a patient."

Haydarian's lawyer, Symon Zucker, told CBC News his client is distressed by the decision and "had both a Muslim divorce and entered into Muslim marriage recognized by Muslim law" and believed both were legitimate. 

Sexual assault charges previously withdrawn

Haydarian had also been charged criminally on June 26, 2020 with five counts of assault; one count of uttering a death threat; four counts of sexual assault; and four counts of sexual interference (a charge that applies in cases where the victim is under the age of 16). He was subsequently charged with an additional count of sexual assault on July 21, 2020. 

But that case collapsed on June 9, 2022, when the assistant Crown attorney told the Ontario Court of Justice she "had serious concerns with the credibility of … the main complainant." 

The Crown made the decision following a five-day preliminary hearing in January 2022, which included testimony from three witnesses. The charges were subsequently withdrawn.

However, the RCDSO disciplinary process, where considerations are different from criminal cases, continued.. For instance, even if a patient of a dentist consents to sex, it is still forbidden under rules established by the college.

In the intervening three years, Haydarian had been allowed to continue to practise but with restrictions requiring that he be supervised at all times and not treat children.

Those restrictions remain in effect.

Another patient comes forward

The disciplinary panel met on three occasions throughout 2022, with the patient testifying she was confused by Haydarian's behaviour, as she understood that he was married with four children. 

But, as it progressed, she says she did decide to accept his proposal for marriage because he seemed to be a "good package." However, she insisted to the panel no marriage ever took place.

Meanwhile, the College panel also concluded that Haydarian crossed the patient/dentist boundary by entering into a financial relationship with another patient. 

That case involved his decision to co-sign a mortgage for a patient, which the college alleges is an impermissible act.

Haydarian testified that he asked the second patient what was causing her stress, since it was clear to him that she was grinding her teeth. He eventually learned from her mother — who was also his patient — that she was having financial issues and that needed a guarantor for her mortgage. On September 30, 2011, he guaranteed the loan for $475,000.

Haydarian testified he knew what it was like to be a newcomer and to struggle to get one's footing. 

He told the panel he now understands his act did cross a boundary and that he would not do it again, in future; that he now understands that his conduct constitutes a breach of the college's Prevention of Sexual Abuse and Boundary Violations Practice Advisory.

Range of penalties

It is now left to an independent panel of the Discipline Committee to determine what penalty, if any, Haydarian should face.

According to the RCDSO, the Health Professions Procedural Code specifies that where there is a finding of sexual abuse, the panel shall:

  • Reprimand the dentist.

  • Revoke the dentist's certificate of registration if the sexual abuse consisted of any of the 'frank acts' listed (e.g., sexual intercourse).

  • Suspend the dentist's certificate of registration if the sexual abuse did not include any of the frank acts.

The panel can also require the dentist to pay a fine and reimburse the college for therapy and counselling provided to the patient.

That hearing is expected to occur in 2023, but a date has not yet been set.

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