Naturopaths and Chiropractors Boards of Ontario Need to Do More To Protect Patients from Sexual Assault

by | October 5, 2015
filed under Can-Con

Chiropractic table

Open Letter

Dear College of Naturopaths of Ontario, College of Chiropractors of Ontario, and the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N):

You are the regulatory bodies for naturopathic and chiropractic professionals practicing in Ontario. You have publicly expressed on your websites that you are devoted to supporting the public’s right to safe, competent and ethical care. You have stated that you are here to protect us, the public, from harm. For example, on the BDDT-N website it is declared that your mission, vision and values are as follows: “The Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N), appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in council, is responsible for public protection in Ontario with respect to the practice of Naturopathic Medicine.

In order to practice Naturopathic Medicine in Ontario Naturopathic Doctors must be registered with the BDDT-N.”

 I am writing this open letter to make it known that you have failed to protect the public by not suspending a doctor under your regulation who has been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a patient, while on bail for allegedly sexually assaulting a different patient.

The College of Naturopaths and Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy are further failing to support the public’s right to safe, and ethical care by not listing the press release and pertinent information about this doctor’s pending charges on your website. Below, I have described the details as they are known to the public.

Dr. Allan Bortnick is a chiropractor and a naturopath who is currently practicing at 1126 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto. It has been brought to the attention of Dr. Allan Bortnick’s governing boards that he was arrested and charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a patient in April 2015.

The boards were further notified that, while Dr. Allan Bortnick was on bail for the first sexual assault charge, he was charged again for allegedly sexually assaulting a different woman patient during treatment in July 2015.

Dr. Bortnick was released on bail a second time and is still treating patients at his private practice, despite the Toronto Police Service stating on a press release published on Friday, July 10, 2015, that there may be more victims.

News sources have also reported on the police’s belief. For example, CP24 reported that: “Police say they believe other victims may still be out there” and CTV News reported: “Police believe there may be more victims and remind the public that sexual assault is any form of unwanted sexual contact including kissing and grabbing.”

NEWSTALK 1010 published an online article on July 10, 2015 that said: “When NEWSTALK 1010 called [Bortnick’s] office, they were willing to book appointments as early as Monday…Offered a chance to comment on the allegations, Bortnick said little, but through his receptionist, said he “will have his day in court.” 

As of September 29, 2015, the regulatory bodies have decided to allow Dr. Allan Bortnick to continue working with patients until he is proven guilty, which could take months, leaving the public at potential risk of being sexually assaulted during treatment.

I want to thank the College of Chiropractors of Ontario for deciding to conduct an investigation into the allegations brought to your attention and making this link available through your website. Thank you for having Dr. Allan Bortnick consent to not conduct any chiropractic examinations or procedures except with another adult over 18 years of age in the examination room. However, I draw issue with the ambiguity of whom that other adult has to be and who is overseeing that he complies with this undertaking.

Further, Dr. Allan Bortnick is not required to have another adult in the room when conducting naturopathic examinations or procedures. I am appalled by the deplorable decision of the College of Naturopaths of Ontario and BDDT-N to do nothing in regards to Dr. Allan Bortnick’s sexual assault allegations. When I visit Dr. Allan Bortnick’s page on the College of Naturopaths of Ontario’s website, I was in shock when I saw that he is listed as “In Good Standing.”

Why have you done nothing to warn the public if you describe public safety as a primary mandate of your board? The BDDT-N also has no information about Dr. Allan Bortnick’s bail conditions and pending criminal charges. When future clients research Dr. Allan Bortnick on your websites they should be made aware of the pending sexual assault charges and bail conditions.

I understand that Dr. Allan Bortnick has not been proven guilty in the court of law. I also understand that the trial process takes months, sometimes even more than a year. I can even understand your decision to not suspend the doctor after the first sexual assault charge was pressed. However, I am furious that you have decided to support Dr. Allan Bortnick and not suspend him after a separate charge has been laid by a patient who allegedly was sexually assaulted while he was on bail for the first charge! How can you risk more people being sexually assaulted?

Put another way, why is the risk of the doctor being wrongfully suspended more important than the risk of him sexually assaulting more innocent victims? I understand that if Dr. Allan Bortnick is proven innocent, then suspending him could cost you money. However, I will firmly maintain that the cost associated with more people being victimized far outweighs the financial cost you could incur in the case of a wrongful suspension.

If Dr. Allan Bortnick was a teacher he would be suspended with pay. If Dr. Allan Bortnick was a police officer he would be suspended with pay. How can your boards risk Dr. Allan Bortnick sexually assaulting more victims?

Sincerely,

A woman with the right not to be sexually assaulted by her doctor

UPDATE: After this story was published, I was contacted by Jeremy Quesnelle, Director of Professional Practice for the College of Naturopaths of Ontario, who clarified that there are notes in the College of Naturopaths of Ontario site, in a tab labelled “Registrar’s Notations,” that indicates that the following restriction is now in place: “That [Bortnick] not conduct any medical, chiropractic and/or naturopathic examinations or procedures except with another adult over 18 years of age in the examination room during the examination or procedure.” I responded to thank Mr. Quesnelle but request that it be more transparently displayed, like the College of Chiropractors, in the “Terms, Conditions And Limitations” section – it is, afterall, a “limitation” as to how Dr. Bortnick may practice and that information should be easier for the public to find. Further, the notation that addresses the charges is incomplete and inaccurate – there are two independent charges, not one as communicated in the College’s notes.

Photo by Michael Dorausch, CC-licensed via Flickr.


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