The Sault Star
Psychiatrist ‘damaged’ client
By Harold Carmichael
April 21, 2021
Former Sudbury psychiatrist
A Greater Sudbury man who sexually assaulted a female patient in 2015 while he was practising psychiatry — even though he was not registered to do so — has been given a one-year conditional sentence.
“I strongly dislike the joint (sentencing) submission put before me,” said Ontario Court Justice Heather-Ann Mendes Monday as she issued the sentence along with a two-year probation order, DNA order, ordered that Allan Seltzer be listed on the national sex offenders’ registry for 10 years, and a five-year weapons ban. “But for the mitigating factor of Mr. Seltzer’s health, this is a situation where a clear message of denunciation and deterrence for those who engage in sexual offences while in positions of authority, must be sent.”
The conditional sentence and other orders had been suggested in a joint sentencing submission by assistant Crown attorney Kevin Ludgate and defence lawyer Danielle Vincent.
Seltzer, 69, who is currently being treated for Stage 4 cancer and had a treatment appointment scheduled for later in the day, did not address Mendes.
Mendes said the female victim in the case indicated in her victim impact statement she has had a very difficult time recovering from what happened to her.
“She is, in fact, a very vulnerable victim,” commented the judge. “This has taken away her ability to trust and engage in treatment to move past this issue in her life.”
The conditional sentence will consist of six months of house arrest followed by six months with a curfew. While serving the conditional sentence and then the probation order, Seltzer is not to contact the woman, and not to practise as a doctor, dispense medication, or provide counselling.
The sentence brings to an end a case that initially saw Seltzer enter a guilty plea in the Superior Court of Justice to a charge of sexual assault in mid-February of 2020. A sentencing date of April 9, 2020 was then set.
Prior to the sentencing hearing, however, Seltzer re-elected to have his case dealt with in the Ontario Court of Justice. Mendes, who took the new guilty plea, ordered a pre-sentence report.
Sentencing was then delayed for much of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In late December of 2020, Seltzer, who had filed an application to have his guilty plea struck on medical grounds, abandoned his application.
Seltzer, who was acting as his own lawyer, had filed the application on the grounds he entered the guilty plea under duress due to being seriously ill at the time.
In his sentencing submission Monday, Ludgate said the case involved “an extremely vulnerable victim being taken advantage of by Mr. Seltzer” when he should have been helping her.
“Instead, he damaged her,” said the assistant Crown attorney.
Ludgate also said the pre-sentence report writer noted Seltzer lacked insight into his actions with the woman and also indulged in victim blaming.
Ludgate said that if not for Seltzer’s declining state of health, the Crown would be seeking a jail term of nine to 12 months. In jail, he pointed out, Seltzer would not have access to the level of care he is now receiving for his advanced cancer.
“His state of health is regressing,” said Ludgate. “He is experiencing unmanageable levels of pain … Mr. Seltzer’s state of health is, nonetheless, extremely poor. Sending Mr. Seltzer to jail given his state of health, would accelerate, if not exacerbate, his decline.”
The court heard the sexual assaults involving the female patient occurred prior to Seltzer being convicted of two offences in 2016.
In July of 2016, Seltzer pleaded guilty to fraud under $5,000 and dispensing a controlled substance contrary to the Regulated Health Professionals Act of Ontario. In addition to a $1,000 fine, he was put on one year of probation. At the time, Seltzer did not have a criminal record.
The court heard Seltzer was not registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to practise psychiatry at the time.
The court heard Seltzer was offering counselling and psychiatric sessions out of his Greater Sudbury apartment, charging patients about $100 for 90 minutes of his time. He was also prescribing medication. Both were things he was not allowed to do after not re-registering with the college after being out of Canada for some time.
Greater Sudbury Drug Enforcement Unit and Tactical Unit members executed a search warrant at Seltzer’s apartment in early 2016, seizing a variety of materials including two envelopes containing cash, patient records and receipts.
Seltzer was charged with fraud under $5,000, possessing property obtained by crime, drug trafficking and not being authorized to call himself a registered psychiatrist.
The court heard that in November of 2015, Greater Sudbury Police became aware Seltzer was representing himself as a general psychiatrist with 38 years of experience, marketing his services through a website, and charging $80-$100 for a 90-minute appointment.
The college was contacted and it determined Seltzer was not licensed nor authorized to provide medication in the province, although he had been licensed at one time.
The college then hired a female investigator who, in an undercover capacity, booked an appointment with Seltzer as a patient.
The investigator met with Seltzer Jan. 19, 2016, was charged $100 for her 90-minute appointment, and was also given 12.5-milligram tablets of a drug used to treat anxiety and sleep issues.
“He represented himself as a fully practising psychiatrist,” said assistant Crown attorney Ivana Denisov. “By using this guise to attract patients and charge them for services, he was clearly committing the crime of fraud under ($5,000).”
When Greater Sudbury Police officers executed the search warrant at Seltzer’s apartment, he was taken to Health Sciences North out of a concern for his mental health. He was later charged and got bail.
Then defence lawyer Stephanie Baker told the court Seltzer had been a licensed psychiatrist in Canada for a long time, left the country to work in other jurisdictions, but did not re-register with the college when he came back to Ontario.
Seltzer has worked in the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario, central Kansas, and in northern Belize.