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Convicted of sexually assaulting six of his female patients, a Winnipeg doctor was taken out of court in handcuffs Friday morning, after being sentenced to seven years in prison.
Dr. Amir Ravesh, 54, subjected the women to "objectification and humiliation" during examinations that served no medical purpose but his own sexual gratification, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Ken Champagne said.
Ravesh (full name Amir Houshang Mazhariravesh) stood trial last year, accused of sexual assault under the guise of medical exams at his Elmwood walk-in clinic.
The Crown had recommended Champagne sentence Ravesh to 12 years in prison. Defence lawyer Richard Wolson urged a sentence of three years, arguing it was on par for offenders convicted of similar crimes.
Police arrested Ravesh in October 2017, after a 19-year-old woman visited Health Sciences Centre for treatment and reported she had been sexually assaulted a day earlier. News coverage that followed resulted in other victims stepping forward, alleging sexual misconduct dating back as far as 2013.
Ravesh was removed from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba’s list of practising physicians the day police publicized his arrest in October 2017.
He had been licensed in Manitoba since July 2010, according to the college.
The woman whose complaint prompted Ravesh’s initial arrest testified at trial he digitally penetrated her vagina and anus at the same time, moving his fingers at increasing speed, saying: "This might help your sex drive."
Ravesh, the woman told court, grabbed her breast, put her hand on his erect penis, and told her she had "a nice ass, you should use it."
Another victim, a sex-trade worker, testified Ravesh asked her if she had anal sex with clients, and told her he frequented escorts. The woman told court Ravesh said if she wasn’t comfortable with anal sex "there was probably something wrong down there," and proceeded to digitally penetrate her anus for several minutes.
"This case demonstrates the power imbalance that exists" between doctor and patient, Champagne said, noting how quickly Ravesh was able to pressure the woman into submitting to an invasive examination.
Another victim said she started seeing Ravesh on the recommendation of her then-fiancé. She said she had no complaints about Ravesh until her marriage broke down and Ravesh told her he had feelings for her. Ravesh, she said, told her he was only in his marriage for his children and promised to make her "more sexually happy" than her partner.
Ravesh asked her to feel his heart, and when she refused, he put his hand under her shirt and over a breast.
The woman said she felt pressured by her ex-husband to continue taking their children to Ravesh. She testified Ravesh offered to pay $40 for medical records she required in her divorce proceedings, telling her: "I’m doing a favour for you, I’d like you to do a favour for me and see me on a weekly basis." The woman said she interpreted the comment as sexual.
Champagne imposed consecutive sentences for each offence, initially arriving at a total sentence of 12 years. He reduced the sentence after considering the "totality principle," which recognizes sentences must not be disproportionate and must reflect the degree of responsibility of the offender.
Champagne said he also took into consideration mitigating factors, including Ravesh’s prior good character, strong prospects of rehabilitation and the impact of media coverage while he was free on bail.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
Updated on Friday, September 18, 2020 at 2:06 PM CDT: Updates with quotes from judge
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