MD who sexually abused patient must pay $21,000
‘Difficult and public end’ to career of Dr. Anthony Laws
TORONTO — A former Hamilton doctor has been reprimanded for sexually abusing a patient and carrying on an inappropriate relationship with another.
Dr. Anthony Laws pleaded no contest to allegations involving two men with attention deficit disorder during a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario hearing Thursday.
The five-person committee revoked his registration certificate with the college and ordered him to pay $16,060 in treatment funds and $5,000 in costs by Aug. 15.
Accepting a joint submission, chair Dr. Carole Clapperton called Laws a source of “shame and disgrace” for preying upon vulnerable patients. “They were relying on you and you used them for your own purposes.”
A general practitioner since the 1980s, the McMaster graduate specialized in treating patients with attention deficit disorder, most recently in Hamilton.
A St. Joseph’s Healthcare psychiatrist told the college about one patient’s sexual abuse allegations two years ago, according to an agreed statement of facts.
Patient A, whose identity is shielded by a publication ban, was under Laws’ care from March 2012 to June 2014. Laws, in his mid-60s at the time, had the patient, in his mid-30s, over to his home office several times.
“During these visits, Dr. Laws and the patient consumed alcohol together and went into Dr. Laws’ hot tub together,” college lawyer Lisa Brownstone said.
One time, Laws kissed the patient. Another time, he massaged him while they were naked. He also put the man’s penis into his mouth, the committee heard.
Laws gave the patient a marijuana cookie during a period when he was taking stimulant medication the doctor had prescribed. The man wound up in hospital with psychotic symptoms.
A psychiatrist the college retained to opine on Laws’ work with Patient A said the doctor “did exceed the standard maximum doses” for the ADD drugs.
Patient B saw Laws from May 2003, when he was in his early 30s, until August 2010. During that time, he rented a room at the doctor’s home, paying $450 a month and helping out around the house. The two opened a joint bank account into which the patient’s social assistance payments were directly deposited.
Another expert told the college Laws prescribed drugs to Patient B in what seemed a “haphazard” fashion and didn’t note them in reports to other doctors.
Brownstone argued Laws’ recklessness wasn’t just a one-off but “repeated behaviour with two patients over a period of years.”
Nor was it the first time he’d been disciplined, she noted.
In 1999, his certificate was suspended for three months after a hearing examined his role in the liver-failure death of a 14-old-boy under his care six years earlier.
The boy’s parents said Laws hadn’t told them about the potential side effects of the drugs he’d prescribed nor the need to monitor his liver.
In 2003, he was handed 45 days in jail for faking documents to hide his role in the death.
During Thursday’s hearing, lawyer Kelly Tranquilli said her client had cooperated with the college and had already resigned from the college last year.
“This is indeed a very difficult and public end to his career.”
Laws declined to comment after the hearing. He still operates SYA Coaching Group, a non-medical centre for adults and youth with learning and behavioural issues at 357 Main St. E.