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Sexual Assault by a Dentist

Patients may be sexually assaulted by a dentist while they are sedated during routine procedures. Dentists may also commit sexual assault by agreeing to write prescriptions in exchange for sex (though this is less common). There have been several sexual assault complaints and cases against dentists in Canada. Unlike medical doctors, who must touch and examine patients while nude, sexual assaults by dentists happen most frequently when their patients are sedated.

Sedated patients are vulnerable to being sexually assaulted because they may be unaware of what is being done to them. Unlike in a medical office where nurses and other assistants are frequently present, a dental office may have less people around. While a sedated patient going through a medical surgery is typically surrounded by many medical professionals, a dentist may be left virtually alone with a sedated patient, leaving them vulnerable to a sexual assault.

Prevention of Dentist Sexual Assault

While it is inappropriate for physicians to videotape many patients in the examination room (because they are unclothed), this is appropriate for virtually all dental procedures. Patients can be protected from sexual assault by dentists by having the dentist videotape the procedure being performed while they are under sedation. This also helps remedy the problem of the dentist not being able to have an assistant present at all times.

Videotaping dental procedures both prevents sexual assaults and protects the dentist from false claims by patients. It thus is a relatively inexpensive form of deterrence and protection for both the patient and the dentist. Despite this, few dental offices in Canada currently use video recording technology.

Reporting Sexual Assault by a Dentist

If you believe you are the victim of a sexual assault by a dentist, the first thing you should do is report this to the police and the dental society. Both will conduct an investigation into the matter. Depending on the facts of the case, the police investigation will likely consist of interviewing potential witnesses, reviewing notes, and potentially seeking to obtain forensic evidence. These cases may be difficult because the victim may have little or no recollection of what happened while they were sedated. There may be other evidence, however, that supports their case.

While the dentist has a right not to provide the police with a statement regarding what happened, they are obligated to respond to any questions and requests made by the dental society. Even if the dentist is not criminally prosecuted, or is acquitted, the dental society may have grounds to limit or suspend their practise. This is completely separate from any criminal or civil lawsuit proceeding that may also occur. Of course, if the dentist is criminally convicted of sexual assault, it would be very difficult for the dental society not to take any action against them (since a court has found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt).

Suing a Dentist for Sexual Assault

It is possible to begin a civil legal action against a dentist who sexually assaults you. You can sue regardless of their being a criminal conviction or whether any action has been taken by the dental society or not. These are factors that would, however, give you a much stronger case.

Disclaimer: All information on this page is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice or presumed to be completely accurate, or infinitely up to date. If you have questions regarding your case, please contact a local lawyer immediately because there are time limitations on civil claims. Failure to contact a local lawyer immediately could prevent you from making a claim.

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