July 18th, 2024

Accused physician withdraws from practice

By Gillian Slade on August 29, 2017.


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

A local family doctor facing charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation has withdrawn from practice, according to information from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

On Aug. 17 Medicine Hat Police Service made public an allegation that in June of 2017, a patient with a disability had a medical appointment with Dr. Ian Gebhardt, 55, at Crescent Heights Family Medical Clinic. During an examination the adult male patient was allegedly sexually assaulted, said Insp. Joe West.

“It’s important to remember that a criminal charge remains an allegation until the individual is convicted in court,” said Kelly Eby, spokesperson for CPSA.

CPSA’s website says Gebhardt is Active — but withdrawn from practice.

“That means he is a member and has paid his fees, but is not in active practice (not seeing patients),” said Eby. “As complaints/investigations are confidential, I am unable to confirm whether we have an active investigation into this particular case.”

If a physician is charged with a criminal offence and there is perceived to be a public safety risk, the CPSA can impose practice conditions such as requiring a chaperone be present while seeing patients, or temporarily suspend the physician, while conducting an investigation. The physician may also voluntarily withdraw from practice, said Eby.

If an investigation is undertaken, the timing depends on the perceived risk to the public. If the physician has been incarcerated, has voluntarily withdrawn from practice or the CPSA has put appropriate safeguards in place to mitigate any further risk of harm to the public, the investigation may be put on hold until after the criminal court decision, said Eby.

West said the incident that triggered the charges was “vigorously investigated” and MHPS’s family crimes unit was instrumental in the investigation process. They are trained to interview people with disabilities or vulnerabilities, and they’re skilled at getting the best information in the best possible way.

Sexual exploitation is a charge that comes when someone is in a position of authority and trust, while the victim is in a position of dependency, said West.

Gebhardt was released on bail and is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 14.

Citing privacy legislation, MHPS declined to disclose whether there have been any previous allegations/complaints made to MHPS about Gebhardt.

“We are restricted to only releasing information as it pertains to matters before the courts,” said Rita Sittler, spokesperson for MHPS.

According to CPSA’s online directory, Gebhardt graduated from McMaster University with a medical degree in 2005.

He is originally from Ontario but participated in the Rural Physician Action Plan’s “Alberta Rural Family Medicine Residence program” in 2005 in southern Alberta, according to a publication by the organization from that same year.

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