'Trust was broken': Another long-time Ukabam patient takes stand in sexual assault trial
WARNING: This story includes details of sexual assault allegations.
The sexual assault trial of a former Regina doctor continued on Friday, with the fifth complainant taking the stand.
Sylvester Ukabam pleaded not guilty to the seven counts of sexual assault levelled against him by five women, including those described by three complaints who have already appeared in court.
Another long-time patient of Ukabam told the court she trusted the former gastroenterologist for 14 years before the incident that caused her to file a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The fifth complainant started seeing Ukabam in the early 2000s. He diagnosed her with Crohn’s disease and treated her until 2014.
Friday’s complainant alleges she had an appointment with Ukabam on June 23, 2014 due to significant pain she was experiencing from her mouth to her anus. She hoped her medication could be increased to help with the pain.
When she arrived at Ukabam’s downtown office, she was brought into his office where an intern was sitting. She said wasn’t bothered by the intern listening to their conversation about her pain.
When the complainant and Ukabam were making their way to the examination room, she said Ukabam asked the intern to stay in his office.
She told the court she was asked to take all her clothes off and lay down on the bed before he left the room. The patient said she took off all of her clothing, including her underwear, which she said was normal for her physical exams. She laid on the bed and covered herself with a sheet.
She said Ukabam then entered the room without knocking and asked her to turn onto her hands and knees and tilt her hand down - something he had never asked her to do before.
“I felt uncomfortable, but I thought it might help because he was the doctor and I was the patient,” she told the court.
Ukabam then allegedly touched her vaginal area for about 10 seconds, then put a lubricated gloved finger into her vagina for about 30 seconds.
She told the court that after he removed his finger, she moved to lean against the wall, adding he had never told her he was going to touch her vagina, or why.
She alleges Ukabam then turned to wash his hands and she started getting dressed quickly.
“I should have waited for him to leave before getting dressed, but I was in a hurry to get my clothes back on,” the complainant said.
She alleged while she was pulling her shirt up, he turned around and watched her put her pants on and commented that she looked sad and asked to hug her.
She said she agreed to the hug, shocked and afraid.
During previous appointments, they had talked about her son’s anxiety and her concerns about him. The patient said after the hug Ukabam asked her how her son was doing and gave her a card with another doctor’s name and phone number on it as a referral.
The two of them then went back to his office where he said he would not be increasing her medication, then she left the office.
The complainant sent a letter to the college in 2014 explaining how she felt the incident was inappropriate and that she had lost all trust in Ukabam.
She said she got a letter back from the college saying it would be his word against hers, so nothing would be done.
In late 2017 or early 2018, the complainant received a call from the Regina Police Service (RPS) saying another previous patient had filed a complaint about Ukabam. She said officers came across her letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons during the investigation and asked if she could be interviewed and was interested in filing a report - the complainant agreed.
The defense started its cross-examination with a series of questions surrounding the patients' medical history and previous physical exams with Ukabam before the alleged incident in 2014.
The defense also asked about the patient’s stress levels before the incident and how questions around their personal life could have impacted the reason for the appointment and its importance to the exam.
During questioning, the defense inquired about Ukabam’s hands and if the complainant could see them during the examination, asking if she was sure he was touching her vaginal area or if she could be confusing the feeling in her vagina with a feeling in her rectum.
The complainant said she could not see his hands because of the position she was in but “a finger in the vagina cannot be misconstrued.”
Friday’s complainant was the last to take the stand. On Monday, the court will hear from a doctor based in Ontario, expected to discuss proper procedures during physical exams.
Saskatchewan healthcare officials announced that the province underwent a record breaking increase of new HIV cases, with 237 new diagnoses in 2021.
The Victoria Day long weekend marks the unofficial start of summer with many outdoor events such as festivals, parades and other activities.
The seat currently held by the Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili will be up for grabs within six months of his resignation.