Judge told patients abused during surgery

Jan. 15, 2013 at 9:38 AM

TORONTO, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A Toronto anesthesiologist sexually assaulted more than 20 semi-conscious women on the operating table as surgical teams worked on them just inches away, prosecutors said.

David Wright said in his opening statement Monday that Dr. George Doodnaught, blocked from view by a sterile sheet, inappropriately touched at least 21 women's upper bodies while nurses and surgeons worked on the other side of the sheet, the Toronto Star reported.

Doodnaught, 64, said he was innocent Monday of the 21 counts of sexual assault on 21 women, ranging in age from 25 to 75, between 2006 and 2010.

The married father of five worked at North York General Hospital since 1981. He is not currently practicing, but is still allowed to do so only with male patients, the Star said.

Wright told Ontario Superior Court Justice David McCombs that the drugs Doodnaught administered put the women in "conscious sedation," a state between consciousness and unconsciousness.

The women were "vulnerable and virtually incapable of moving," while undergoing procedures such as hysterectomies or joint replacements, Wright said.

Wright said the hospital was slow to act on the complaints, noting that nothing done until after Doodnaught was arrested on three sexual assault charges.

North York General spokesman Marcelo Gomez-Wiuckstern didn't comment about the case because it was active, but said the hospital cooperated with authorities once it was made aware of the complaints.

The trial, expected to last at least two months, is being heard by a judge, not a jury.

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