A Halifax doctor accused of sexually assaulting RCMP members declined to speak publicly Thursday, even as police said the number of complaints against him had grown to about 40.
“Especially in a case like this I don’t want to say too much,” said the doctor, who worked at the RCMP health services office in the Halifax suburb of Bedford.
Halifax police Const. Carol McIsaac said Thursday the number of complaints is “very fluid” and is continuing to climb, nearly doubling over a 24-hour period.
“It’s a complicated, complex investigation to begin with because it’s quite large,” she said, noting the complainants are both men and women. “Anything that’s a historical investigation into anything can be difficult because if there are witnesses they can forget or move on, or they can be difficult to locate.”
The RCMP has said the victims were either applicants looking to join the force or serving members who were receiving treatment by the physician between 1981 and 2003.
The now-retired doctor said he treated RCMP members and handled some administrative tasks as well.
“I was working for the RCMP at the time, yes, but I don’t want to say anymore,” he told The Canadian Press, which does not normally name individuals under investigation until criminal charges are laid.
The investigation into the Nova Scotia doctor comes as Toronto police say they are also probing sexual assault allegations against an RCMP doctor who used to practise in the Mounties’ Ontario division.
Lawyer David Klein, whose firm is one of two that represented female RCMP employees in a sexual harassment class action, said several of his clients had informed him the Halifax physician was nicknamed “Dr. Fingers.”
Klein said in an interview this week that several clients told him the doctor gave them unneeded rectal exams, inserted his fingers into their vaginas without good reason and spent unusually long periods rubbing their breasts with his hands.
The lawyer said more women were contacting his office to tell their stories, but they were not necessarily bringing their reports forward to police.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen White, the force’s acting chief human resources officer, said in an email to members that the allegations involved a doctor who conducted recruitment medical examinations and periodic health assessments on members.
Meanwhile, the force’s commanding officer in Nova Scotia, Assistant Commissioner Brian Brennan, has said he expects “many more” people to come forward as the investigation unfolds.
He said the RCMP received its information from sources other than the recently settled class action involving over 1,000 female RCMP employees who alleged they suffered sexual abuse and harassment.
He also said the potential scope of the investigation is very large because hundreds of women applied for the police force over the 23-year period in question and received medical exams from the doctor.
The Canadian Press