Dirty doc should be out of chances
By Michele Mandel
February 26, 2016
This doctor has had two chances too many.
For the third time, Dr. Paul Porter has been found guilty of professional misconduct by Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons — this time for the sexual abuse of a patient by “hugging her, kissing her, holding her hand, having her sit on his lap and making remarks of a sexual nature.”
And this all happened when the 67-year-old St. Catharines psychiatrist was already under restrictions imposed by the disciplinary body due to a previous guilty finding — which included having a practice monitor and a video camera tape all his sessions.
Porter first ran afoul of the college in 2002 when two female patients accused him of sexual abuse. Those complaints were dismissed due to a “lack of clear, convincing or cogent evidence.” One of the women failed to note that he was uncircumcised and had pinhead-sized lesions on his penis.
But the disciplinary committee did find Porter guilty of professional misconduct for his “serious lack of judgment” in treating the women who had complex psychiatric illnesses.
Not everyone on the committee agreed. Two of the five members wrote a dissenting opinion, saying they believed the patients and would have found Porter guilty of sexual abuse.
“The minority believes that Dr. Porter, knowing the psychiatric illnesses of the complainants, sexually abused them and attempted to use the symptoms of their illnesses to explain their perception of being sexually assaulted.”
To its credit, the college suspended him for 30 months and ordered him not to return to private practice for five years. Instead, he was to work in a hospital setting where he could be monitored by two physician supervisors. “The committee believes that Dr. Porter requires a long period of rehabilitation, not a short period, for the public to be truly protected.”
Perhaps if that had actually happened, this latest patient would not have been abused.
Instead, the strict penalty was reversed on appeal. The Divisional Court found it “far too harsh” and lifted Porter’s suspension. It imposed conditions that he not treat patients with certain complex conditions for five years, he would have to video all his sessions and have a monitor review his cases.
He could remain in private practice.
In 2012, Porter was again found guilty of professional misconduct. The college found he’d failed to maintain proper “therapeutic boundaries” with two married patients and borrowed “significant sums of money” from them while he’d been suspended. The couple said their psychiatrist had become “like a member of the family” and they loaned him $24,900. Porter said the money was a gift, but agreed to repay $17,400. He was suspended for one month.
Now he’s been found guilty for the third time.
From February 2009 to April 2012, a female patient who suffered from panic attacks said Porter became increasingly flirtatious during her treatment — he told her he liked her brown leather jacket because it made her “breasts perk up” and once joked that “we would look funny making love together with the two of us with our sore backs.” Soon he was promising to leave his wife for her and during their sessions, she said, he would take her out of camera range to kiss and hug her.
She admitted liking the attention he gave her. “He is far from my class… Why would he ever like me?” she testified at his hearing. “I was just a person who worked at a coffee shop, you know.” Porter denied making any romantic advances but admitted he’d given her “supportive” hugs many times and “in retrospect, it was not an appropriate thing to be doing.”
The woman eventually confided in her family doctor and he was obliged to report Porter to the college.
And so here he was again.
This time, the committee had no problem believing he’d overstepped his boundaries and sexually abused a patient. “In moving out of the camera’s view, Dr. Porter purposely thwarted the protection for patients that the college had ordered,” they said in their decision.
“This highly vulnerable, loved-starved patient living apart from her husband was a willing recipient. That it made her feel great at the time is no excuse.”
He knew better. And it’s about time his chances were up.