Outside Charles Duncan's former office. Duncan closed his practice on October 31, 2019. VOICE PHOTO

Former family doctor loses bid to sever sexual assault charges

Sexual assault charges against a former Fonthill doctor will proceed as one court case, despite his defense lawyers’ application to have the charges split.

The decision was rendered via audio conference at the Robert S.K. Welch Courthouse in St. Catharines, last Thursday, August 27. The case had been delayed due to COVID closures.

The presiding judge ruled to dismiss the application by Duncan attorneys Jill Makepeace and Michael DelGobbo for severance of one count against Duncan. The case now goes to Justice Fergus O’Donnell for a judicial pretrial next week, and then to trial in St. Catharines on Tuesday, October 13, 10 AM, in Courtroom 1.

Dr. Charles Duncan, second from right, confers with lawyer Michael DelGobbo, far left, and his sons outside a St. Catharines courtroom in February. JOHN CHICK

Duncan, 76, who practiced family medicine in Pelham for decades, resigned from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario last October, after the college commenced an investigation into allegations against him of professional misconduct and incompetence. Duncan agreed to never reapply for registration as a physician in Ontario or any other jurisdiction, and to ask the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) to deactivate his billing number.

After one of his alleged assault victims told her story to the Voice last autumn, several more women came forward with similar allegations. Only after a Voice editorial ran questioning the Niagara Regional Police’s apparent inaction in the face of the multiple allegations was Duncan formally charged and arrested, last November.

The Crown is pursuing charges related to five females, and the NRPS have laid a total of seven charges of sexual assault and one of sexual exploitation. Duncan was first arrested and charged in relation to two separate alleged incidents involving a 16-year-old girl and a 39-year-old woman. Three more women later came forward, aged between 54 and 64, alleging offenses which took place between Aug. 31, 1994, and Sept. 31, 2018.

Neither the Crown nor Duncan’s defense team had responded to requests for comment by press time.

 

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