Sex assault charges stayed
Local doctor accused of indecent act with developmentally disabled patient issued stay of charges after complainant testimony
Charges against a local doctor accused of molesting a developmentally disabled patient were stayed Thursday after court heard contradictory testimony from the complainant.
Dr. Ian Gebhardt faced charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation in relation to a June 6, 2017 appointment, where the complainant alleged the doctor forced him to perform a sex act.
The complainant, who cannot be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban, testified at Medicine Hat Provincial Court from behind a screen that blocked the accused from his view, with Mulder, victim services’ support dog, at his side.
The complainant testified that after conducting a routine physical, Gebhardt zipped down his pants and asked the complainant to perform the act.
He alleged the doctor told him “to keep a secret,” which he testified was a reference to what allegedly took place in the office.
However, the complainant told police he couldn’t recall what the secret was.
Defence lawyer Robert Robbenhaar asked him why he can now remember something 18 months after he said he couldn’t recall.
“I don’t know,” the complainant said.
Although he initially testified that the day in question was his first time seeing Gebhardt, the complainant agreed under cross-examination that he had been a patient for six years.
He also admitted under cross-examination that he was taken to Gebhardt because he had lost 30 pounds after ceasing to take his anti-psychotic medication.
Robbenhaar said the side effects of cessation include confusion.
“Is it possible you’re confusing the doctor with somebody else?” Robbenhaar asked.
The complainant responded affirmatively.
In his police statement, the complainant said Gebhardt felt his testicles, which Robbenhaar said his client did to search for lumps, before Gebhardt allegedly unzipped his pants.
He didn’t tell police that Gebhardt directed the complainant’s hand to his penis, as he testified.
“The reason you have two different versions is because you can’t remember correctly,” said Robbenhaar. “Your memories are all bungled.”
After an adjournment for lunch, Crown prosecutor Connor Doyle asked that the charges be stayed, which is different from a withdrawal in that the charges can be brought back within a year.
Gebhardt must appear before the Alberta College of Physicians to get back his medical licence, which was suspended after his arrest in August 2017.