Former doctor accused of sexual assault denies allegations during testimony

WARNING: Coverage of this trial contains details of sexual assault allegations.

Sylvester Ukabam, a former Regina doctor accused of sexually assault five female patients, continued to deny allegations made against him from the witness stand on Wednesday morning.

Ukabam practiced as a gastroenterology specialist in Regina prior to giving up his medical license in 2018. He pleaded not guilty to seven counts of sexual assault levelled against him by five former female patients, who accused him of inappropriate actions during physical examinations between 2010 to 2018.

On Wednesday morning, defence lawyer Aaron Fox began by asking Ukabam more details about the medical history of the third complainant in the trial. Her allegations were first brought up to the accused late on Tuesday.

The complainant, a long-time patient of Ukabam, alleges the former doctor inappropriately touched her breasts and inserted a finger into her vagina during a physical exam in April 2017.

Fox asked Ukabam to describe the doctor-patient relationship with the woman who, according to medical records, he had seen more than 20 times.

“In 2017, I would have been seeing her for 13 years. During that time, I knew what her main problem was for why she was seeing me. I was also aware of the other problems she had, as well as multiple stressors in her life,” Ukabam said. “I got to know her as a person, and from time to time I would advise her on these other stressors.”

Ukabam said he advised the patient to seek professional help with someone who deals with mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

He said he had that conversation with her multiple times.

Fox asked Ukabam what he remembered from the appointment in April 2017.

“What I recall from my memory is that it may have been a visit that lasted longer than usual because she had so many complaints,” he said.

Ukabam said he performed a physical examination on the patient.

“After discussing all her symptoms and all the new developments, I told her I would like to do a physical examination with a rectal,” he said.

He said he started the exam by feeling and listening to her abdomen, chest and back.

The patient alleged he touched her breasts. Ukabam said he conducted the chest exam the same as he always would.

Ukabam said he remembers the examination that day, and said he does not have a recollection of her breasts being exposed during the exam.

The former doctor said he also completed a strength test on her arms and legs, based on complaints she had voiced.

He said to conduct the leg test, he had to move a chair that was near the foot of the exam bed. The patient testified that Ukabam placed a chair under the exam room door handle.

He said he did not do that and said he did nothing to confine her to the room.

After the strength test, Ukabam said he told the patient he had to do a rectal examination. He said that had been discussed in the office before the exam began.

He said the patient did not raise any objection when he went to start the rectal exam.

Ukabam said the patient also complained about a yeast infection, so he looked around the area for abnormalities. He said he did not touch her vagina or insert a finger in the vagina.

He said during the rectal exam, he asked the patient if it hurt as he moved his finger around, which he said is a normal practice for finding anal abnormalities.

The patient alleged he asked her if it hurt when he was touching her vagina.

When the exam was complete, Ukabam said he asked the patient to come into his office to go over his findings.

“I told her that the only physical findings I had from the physical examination was just the tenderness in the area of the back. Everything else was normal,” he said.

Fox had the accused go over medications prescribed to the patient over the years including treatments for her stomach conditions. He also highlighted an anti-depressant and pain killers.

COMPLAINANT FOUR

The defence moved on to the allegations filed against Ukabam from the fourth complainant who testified last week.

The patient was first referred to Ukabam in 2006. He had seen her on multiple occasions for appointments and procedures.

The patient alleged Ukabam conducted an inappropriate breast examination on her during one appointment at his clinic.

“I’ve never conducted a breast examination on her or on anyone in my office,” Ukabam said.

The defence read through medical records that indicated the patient had been suffering with non-cardiac chest pain.

Ukabam said he doesn’t remember specifics from the appointment, so relies on his records and his common practices to walk the court through what happened.

He said they would have discussed the need for a chest exam before any procedure took place.

He said he would have directed her to put on a gown in the examination room before he entered. He would then start the physical examination.

“I would ask the patient to lie on her back and I would start by examining the abdomen,” Ukabam said.

Fox asked “would you touch her breasts?”

“No,” Ukabam said. “I would have palpated, which is using my fingers to palpate, just above the breast on both sides.”

Ukabam said he conducted no other examination, including rectal or vaginal exams, on the patient.

The patient testified that a medical student was present during the examination.

Ukabam said he has no recollection from memory about if there was a student in the room.

Ukabam said generally speaking, he would bring a student into the examination room if there was anything significant they could learn from the patient. He said he would not have a student in the room for a rectal exam.

He said he would “for sure” ask the patient if they are comfortable with having a student in the room. If the patient indicates they are not comfortable, Ukabam said the student would not come in.

The defence also had Ukabam read through the patient’s medical history, including her medication prescriptions, from his records.

Ukabam said the patient had asked him on multiple occasions about reducing her medication dosages or stopping them all together.

The defence moved on to the fifth and final complainant in the afternoon, but the details surrounding her allegations are expected to be discussed on Thursday morning, when court resumes.

The defence moved on to the allegations filed against Ukabam from the fourth complainant who testified last week.

The patient was first referred to Ukabam in 2006. He had seen her on multiple occasions for appointments and procedures.

The patient alleged Ukabam conducted an inappropriate breast examination on her during one appointment at his clinic.

“I’ve never conducted a breast examination on her or on anyone in my office,” Ukabam said.

The defence read through medical records that indicated the patient had been suffering with non-cardiac chest pain.

Ukabam said he doesn’t remember specifics from the appointment, so relies on his records and his common practices to walk the court through what happened.

He said they would have discussed the need for a chest exam before any procedure took place.

He said he would have directed her to put on a gown in the examination room before he entered. He would then start the physical examination.

“I would ask the patient to lie on her back and I would start by examining the abdomen,” Ukabam said.

Fox asked “would you touch her breasts?”

“No,” Ukabam said. “I would have palpated, which is using my fingers to palpate, just above the breast on both sides.”

Ukabam said he conducted no other examination, including rectal or vaginal exams, on the patient.

The patient testified that a medical student was present during the examination.

Ukabam said he has no recollection from memory if there was a student in the room.

Ukabam said generally speaking, he would bring a student into the examination room if there was anything significant they could learn from the patient. He said he would not have a student in the room for a rectal exam.

He said he would “for sure” ask the patient if they are comfortable with having a student in the room. If the patient indicates they are not comfortable, Ukabam said the student would not come in.

The defence also had Ukabam read through the patient’s medical history, including her medication prescriptions, from his records.

Ukabam said the patient had asked him on multiple occasions about reducing her medication dosages, or stopping them all together.

The defence moved on to the fifth and final complainant Wednesday afternoon, but the details surrounding her allegations are expected to be discussed on Thursday morning, when court resumes.