A Canadian anaesthesiologist convicted of sexually assaulting 21 sedated women during surgeries has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Ontario Superior Court Justice David McCombs said Dr George Doodnaught, 65, exploited the extraordinarily high degree of trust the patients placed in him and his conduct "did enormous damage and was reprehensible in the extreme".
"The profound psychological impact of the physical violations has been compounded by the victims' deep feelings of betrayal that these offences were committed during surgery, by a medical doctor, in an operating room, a place of ultimate vulnerability and trust," McCombs said.
Many of the victims were in the court and wiped tears from their eyes as the sentence was read. The judge said that in some cases Doodnaught "compounded his victims' sense of violation and humiliation by manipulating them to try to make them believe they were somehow responsible, that they had initiated sexual contact or had engaged in sexually explicit conversations".
Though Doodnaught - who intends to appeal - was sentenced to 10 years, he may not spend much time in custody.
One of his victims - the woman who sparked the investigation - clapped as he was led away in handcuffs. "At this point I've come this far and I need to show my children how to do the right thing and how to stand up [against] what's wrong, and this is so wrong on so many levels and I need to do that for them," she said outside the court with her husband by her side.
The woman, who cannot be identified, went in for a hysterectomy in 2010. During the surgery Doodnaught fondled her breasts, kissed her and put his penis in her mouth, the court found.
When she was in the recovery room, Doodnaught leaned in close to her and said, "As soon as you were out, the first thing you reached for was my [penis]," the court found.
Doodnaught's lawyer, Brian Greenspan, said his client was disappointed with the sentence. "He continues to enjoy widespread support not only with his family but amongst his colleagues, patients," Greenspan said outside court.
The first six assaults were spread over 31/2 years and 15 others in the last six months. All but one happened at North York General Hospital in Toronto.
Most of the victims, aged between 25 and 75, took the stand. They testified they were conscious enough to be aware of what was happening, but were not able to move.