Sylvester Ukabam testifies at sexual assault trial
Sylvester Ukabam, a former Regina doctor charged with seven counts of sexual assault against former patients, took the stand on Monday morning to kick off the third week of the trial.
Ukabam practiced as a gastroenterology specialist in Regina prior to giving up his medical license in 2018. He pleaded not guilty to seven counts of sexual assault levelled against him by five former patients who accused him of inappropriate actions during physical medical examinations between 2010 and 2018.
Defence lawyer Aaron Fox started Monday’s questioning by showing Ukabam several photos of his former clinic. Fox had Ukabam describe the layout of the clinic and identify different medical equipment that was visible in the photos.
One of the photos showed a sign on the examination room about chaperones being present during a physical exam.
Ukabam said the photos were taken in 2017, after at least one of the alleged victims had filed her complaints.
Ukabam said when he first met patients, he would tell them in his office that chaperones could be present during exams.
He said patients would “very rarely” ask for chaperones. Ukabam said his medical assistant would act as a chaperone if one was requested.
During questioning, Fox pulled an item out of an evidence box to show the courtroom and asked Ukabam to identify it. The former doctor said it was one of the medical gowns used in his clinic.
Ukabam said when he examined patients in his clinic, he would instruct them to put the gown on with the opening in the front because of his need to examine their abdomen and chest.
He said he would tell female patients to leave their bra and underwear on when changing into gowns.
Ukabam said if underwear needed to be removed for a procedure like a rectal exam, he would wait and have the patient remove them right before the procedure began.
During the testimony, Justice Brian Scherman stopped Ukabam several times to ask him to slow down. Scherman said Ukabam’s accent and quick responses made it difficult to understand what he was saying.
UKABAM’S EXAMINATION PRACTICES
Fox asked Ukabam to walk through his process for conducting a rectal exam.
Ukabam said he would ask patient to lie on their left side with their knees bent, while he stood on their right side. He said he would put on his gloves and lubricate his finger, put his right index finger into the rectum and feel around for masses or tenderness.
He said he would then move his finger farther up in the rectum and tap the “left wall” to see if there was any tenderness.
Ukabam said tapping the left side of the anal wall can indicate if there are any concerns or problems in the genital area.
“The wall of the rectal canal is in contact with the wall of the genital system,” Ukabam said.
Fox asked Ukabam if inserting a finger into a patient’s vagina is part of his process for a rectal exam. Ukabam firmly said “no.”
The defence then asked Ukabam to describe his process for a colonoscopy.
He said the procedure would always be conducted at the Regina General Hospital’s Endoscopy Unit instead of at his clinic.
He said the patient would change into a hospital gown and would be instructed to take off their underwear when changing into their gown.
Ukabam said there would be at least two nurses in the endoscopy procedure room. He said one nurse always stands by his left side to assist the doctor and the other would monitor the patient’s vitals.
He said the nurse to his left would be positioned “very close” to him and would be expected to remain there throughout the procedure.
Before the procedure begins, Ukabam said the patient would sign a consent form and would then be asked to lie on the exam bed on their left side, with their knees pulled up to their chest.
The former doctor said at that time, medication would be administered to the patient to sedate them through an I.V.
He said one of the two drugs administered for conscious sedation is used to relax the patient and sometimes causes amnesia.
In addition to causing amnesia, Ukabam said patients often fall asleep because of the effect of the medication, however can still react if addressed by the doctor.
“After the medication has been administered, we start the procedure,” Ukabam said, saying he would start with a rectal exam to check the area before inserting the scope.
Ukabam said about three feet of the colonoscopy scope is inserted into the rectum during the procedure.
Late in the afternoon, Fox began asking Ukabam about the complaints made by alleged victims.
The first complaint he referenced came from a patient who received a colonoscopy performed by Ukabam in 2013 who alleged to feeling pressure in her vagina during the procedure.
“I was shocked that she could make such a complaint,” Ukabam said, referring to when he first learned about her allegations.
According to forms read out loud in court, the patient had been administered what Ukabam called a normal dosage of drugs for a conscious sedation before the colonoscopy took place.
Ukabam said during his years of performing colonoscopies, he has never accidentally placed his fingers inside a vagina during the procedure.
He said only once in his career has the colonoscopy accidentally been inserted momentarily in the vagina. He said when that happened, the patient was informed right away.
The defence read from medical records that said the complainant had continued to see the doctor at his clinic for a regular annual visit following the alleged assault. Ukabam said he never heard her raise concerns about the 2013 colonoscopy during those visits.
Ukabam said he became aware of her complaint in 2018.
Court was adjourned after Ukabam addressed the allegations from the first complainant. It is scheduled to resume on Tuesday morning, when the defence is expected to question the former doctor about the five other alleged victims.
Regina Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Aaron Salter was one of 10 killed in an attack whose victims represented a cross-section of life in the predominantly Black neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York. They included a church deacon, a man at the store buying a birthday cake for his grandson and an 86-year-old who had just visited her husband at a nursing home.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine, you can still hear the sound of explosions, but now it's outgoing, with the Ukrainians firing at the Russians in retreat. Russia started withdrawing its forces from around Ukraine's second-largest city earlier this week after near constant bombardment.
The white 18-year-old who shot and killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket had researched the local demographics and drove to the area a day in advance to conduct reconnaissance with the intent of killing as many Black people as possible, officials said Sunday.
A man opened fire during a lunch reception at a Southern California church on Sunday before being stopped and hog-tied by parishioners in what a sheriff's official called an act of 'exceptional heroism and bravery.'
Not long before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in February, CTV News' Chief International Correspondent Paul Workman returned to Afghanistan, a country he last visited in 2008 that is now faced with a humanitarian crisis under Taliban rule.
Sunday night's Juno Awards, hosted by 'Shang-Chi' star Simu Liu, honoured Canadian artists such as Avril Lavigne and Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin
While the Red River is starting to recede in southern Manitoba, flood waters linger in communities and more than 2,000 people are still displaced.
The lawyer for the family of a British Columbia Indigenous woman fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B., during a wellness check two years ago said a coroner's inquest opening Monday offers a chance for her loved ones to get long-awaited answers.
Dozens of Ukrainian refugees received a warm welcome from the Saskatoon Ukrainian community during rally at River Landing on Sunday.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp was supposed to get underway at Griffiths Stadium on Sunday morning, but the Riders announced that their first practice was cancelled.
A train derailment in the heart of Winnipeg on Saturday is now under investigation.
The Calgary Flames have defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime in Game 7 of their first-round NHL playoff series Sunday night to advance to the second round.
Calgarians gathered in front of city hall Sunday to rally in support of a woman’s right to abortion as a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision brings the issue to the forefront of conversation on both sides of the border.
Fire officials say a man was severely burned in an incident that occurred in the kitchen of a northeast Calgary home on Sunday afternoon.
The Oilers aren't settling for the second round.
Rearview mirrors are in short supply at Commonwealth Stadium right now, as the Edmonton Elks do their collective best to forget the short-term past and focus on any kind of future.
The new avian flu is creating challenges for Alberta's largest animal rescue organization as it responds to suspected cases.
With so many price tags hovering around the $1-million mark, you might be wondering how far a million dollar budget could get you across Ontario’s real estate markets. Well, it depends on where you’re looking.
Gas prices in Toronto have reached yet another new record after rising six cents per litre overnight.
A rare total lunar eclipse is upon us and people in Ontario are uniquely positioned to see what's known as a 'super flower blood moon' tonight
Witnesses shared photos and videos with CTV News Ottawa that showed a possible landspout tornado south of Casselman around 4:20 p.m. on Sunday.
Ottawa police 'responded appropriately' to maintain public safety during dress code protest, chief says
Ottawa's interim police chief is defending the police response to a dress code protest outside a French Catholic secondary school on Friday, saying officers "responded appropriately with the intention of maintaining public safety."
Ontario Provincial Police are investigating the drowning of a 25-year-old Gatineau man in the Mississippi River west of Ottawa.
'It just gives me hope that she can get through this': Dozens rally for teen girl brutally beaten in Surrey
Dozens of people gathered in Surrey Sunday morning to show support for a teenage girl who was brutally beaten last weekend.
The devastating fire at Gastown’s Winters Hotel has brought more attention to the issues plaguing Vancouver's single-room occupancy residences.
The stairs are crumbling and unusable. The windows and doors are boarded up. The roof is old and growing weeds. But this two-bedroom home on Broadway in East Vancouver is on the market for $1.5 million.
A body was discovered in the trunk of a vehicle that was set on fire Sunday in Montreal's east end.
A man in his 30s is in critical condition in a Montreal hospital after being hit by a tanker truck and dragged for several metres.
New regulations on pet ownership and breeding in Quebec came out this week including major advances for pet care and the humane treatment of horses. The new Animal Welfare and Safety Act would also ban non-therapeutic surgeries like declawing in cats, and tail-docking or ear-cropping in dogs.
After experiencing an "unacceptably high level" of illegal and backroad camping over the last two summers, communities on Vancouver Island's west coast are collectively urging visitors to make reservations and only stay at authorized campgrounds.
A wildlife rescue centre in Vancouver Island's Comox Valley will temporarily close its visitor centre and gift shop on Monday amid concerns about the spread of avian influenza in the region.
Dave Clarke's noisy welding shop in Victoria is the last place you might expect to find a hummingbird nest, but that's exactly what he found one recent morning.
Eighteen months after a public inquiry was established in Nova Scotia to investigate the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history, lawyers representing most of the 22 victims say they are troubled about its slow progress and lack of witness testimony.
A workplace death investigation is underway following a fatality last week at a Michelin tire plant in Nova Scotia.
It's a golfers "Day for Ukraine" in Sudbury.
The Royal Canadian Legion's 52nd biennial covention of the Ontario Provincial Command is continuing this weekend.
DEVELOPING | MNRF evacuation advisory for Shining Tree
MNRF officials are advising residents of Shining Tree to evacuate due to a fire.
Waterloo regional police are investigating the suspicious death of an eight-year-old and continue to look for a man in Cambridge.
A feathered family was reunited in Waterloo Saturday.
A crash has resulted in three people being injured and a major road in Kitchener partially shut down on Sunday afternoon.