Skip to main content

Civil proceedings against former Regina doctor delayed over cancer treatments

Share

A civil case brought forward against a former Regina doctor who was acquitted of sexual assault charges is on hold for medical reasons.

According to a court decision dated April 3, the plaintiff in the civil case, referred to as “Patient X” due to a publication ban, had applied for a court order requiring Sylvester Ukabam attend questioning before the end of May.

The defence opposed the order on the basis that Ukabam is undergoing medical treatments for cancer, saying that Ukabam’s cancer specialist has given advice his patient is not able to participate in questioning until the course of the treatment and a recovery period have gone by.

A submission from the defence attributed to Ukabam’s oncologist said the former doctor underwent surgery in December 2022 to remove a tumour in his gallbladder, followed by six months of postoperative chemotherapy.

“Since the chemotherapy affects both the physical stamina and the mental function, I do not advise for him to undergo further litigation while on the chemotherapy and for additional three months after its end which is the usual recovery time,” said a letter from the doctor, summarizing his patient’s diagnosis and treatment.

“Furthermore, any stress would be detrimental for a patient battling the cancer.”

In light of the oncologist’s opinion, the defence suggested delaying questioning until the fall.

The plaintiff brought up the possibility of questioning Ukabam virtually instead of in person, but the judge ultimately decided a virtual option would not “improve the reality” that the defendant’s physical and mental sharpness have been affected by the treatment.

“I am not prepared to order Dr. Ukabam to attend questioning between April 1 and May 2023. This would occur while he is still in the middle of his chemotherapy treatments, according to the evidence of his oncologist,” Justice Peter Bergbusch wrote.

“However, barring something unforeseen, the plaintiff is entitled to proceed with questioning as soon as Dr. Ukabam has recovered sufficiently from his course of treatment.”

Bergbusch dismissed the application, but did note the plaintiff can re-apply should the two parties be unable to agree on dates for questioning following Ukabam’s treatments and recovery.

“Nothing before the court indicates that Dr. Ukabam is at imminent risk of dying,” Bergbusch said.

Ukabam was acquitted of seven counts of sexual assault following a judge-alone criminal trial in 2022. The allegations stemmed from Ukabam’s time as a practicing gastroenterologist and hepatologist at a private clinic in Regina, brought forward by five former patients.

The Crown intends to appeal the trial judge's decision that found Ukabam not guilty. A hearing date is tentatively scheduled for June 2023.

The civil case was launched by Patient X in 2019, but was delayed until after a verdict was delivered in the criminal proceedings.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

LIVE NOW

LIVE NOW Canada to launch 'national action plan' to fight auto theft

The federal government is launching what it calls its 'national action plan' to combat auto thefts, which will include stronger penalties for thieves, and increased information sharing between police agencies, government officials and border enforcement.

Stay Connected