A tribunal has found Dr. Adekunle Williams Owolabi guilty of all four professional misconduct complaints lodged against him and suspended his licence to practise for six months.
The decision was given Monday in St. John’s, at the professional misconduct hearing against Owolabi conducted by a tribunal panel established by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador.
At an earlier hearing, Labrador teacher Arlene Johnson testified that when she visited Owolabi for a pelvic exam he made comments that she believed were sexual.
She also said that after the test, he hugged her and whispered in her ear: “You have a beautiful c–t, does your husband tell you that?”
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Another complainant testified that during a pelvic examination, Owolabi asked, “Do you like big ones or small ones?”
She said Owolabi made the comments while she was pregnant, undressed from the waist down, and had her feet in stirrups. There were two female secretaries in the room at the time, she said.
Ordered to pay $75K
The tribunal said Owolabi’s inappropriate comments and touching of patients showed a lack of respect for the dignity and privacy of patients, which it determined constituted professional misconduct deserving sanction.
Owolabi was given a six-month suspension of his medical licence. The tribunal ordered that he have a chaperone present when he sees female patients for two years after returning to practise.
In addition, he must take a training course about respecting patients and was ordered to pay $75,000 towards the costs of holding a hearing.
After the hearing Owolabi’s lawyer Paul Stokes said they are “disappointed with the decision.”
Owolabi has 30 days to appeal the decision in court, but Stokes said he and his client haven’t decided if they will appeal the decision.
‘Pattern of behaviour’
Four former patients of Owolabi lodged the charges of professional misconduct, who testified before the tribunal that his actions ranged from making sexual comments, to inappropriate touching and kissing at his clinic in Labrador West.
In their submission regarding sanctions, lawyers for the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons called for an eight-month suspension, as well as a two-year requirement for a chaperone when seeing female patients and a course on understanding boundaries.
The college’s lawyer said there is “perhaps a pattern of behaviour,” and called for a formal reprimand.
Stokes said his client’s not guilty plea shouldn’t make his sanction greater than a guilty plea. Stokes said the suspension and chaperone request are excessive.
He added he believed a three to six-month suspension is appropriate.
The college’s lawyers asked that Dr. Owolabi be ordered to pay $100,000 for legal fees, while his lawyer suggested he should pay $55,000.
Owolabi is a foreign-trained physician. He graduated from medical school in Nigeria and was licenced to practice in Newfoundland and Labrador.