The Voice reached out for comment from former patients of Charles Duncan’s— victims and alleged victims, as well as supporters— who had previously contacted the newspaper after allegations of his conduct arose in 2019, for their reaction to the sentence handed down after his conviction on charges of sexual assault.
Female, non-patient, 29 at time of assault
Today while I was sitting in court listening to Her Honour reading the sentence for Mr. Duncan, I found myself looking over in his direction for the first time since the trial began. I watched him shake his head at times in what appeared to be disbelief as Her Honour talked about the evidence, the impact on each victim and his lack of contrition. I saw a man who is deeply troubled. Although I hoped for a custodial sentence, my deep mistrust in people and systems of power and authority did not allow for that hope. I was mistaken. Crown attorney Mr. Morris, the detective with the NRPS, and especially our liaison with victims services all played integral roles in supporting me through these past two years. This journey has been difficult for myself, my family and many others. This final chapter I hope will allow healing to begin.
Mother of victim
It has been a long, drawn-out process, but I was happy with the sentence, although he should be serving it in the penitentiary. At least he will maybe realize the damage he has caused to the brave women who came forward. That was very personal to them and they should be commended for seeing it through with no objective other than to hold him accountable for his actions.
Throughout all of this Duncan has shown zero remorse—in fact shaking his head in denial at every opportunity.
He is a despicable reprobate and I feel for his family who did not ask for this to be foisted on them.
I do believe that recidivism in this man is very real should the slightest opportunity arise.
Female, patient, 45 at time of assault, 64 when pressing charges
As one of his victims and testifying and sitting through many court sessions, it’s mixed feelings we are dealing with now. Some of us are in different places mentally and physically in our lives but none of us are unaffected by the acts of Charles Duncan.
While we want to celebrate the fact that Judge Calderwood came to her decisions in a most thorough and decisive manner, we also need to recognize that new precedents need to be put in place for these types of sexual assaults. I personally applaud Her Honour for hearing us and considering all the facts as they were presented. The whole process has left scars on all the women he has deliberately abused. We never stopped living them while all this has been going on. I pray we can all move forward now. The decisions he made over decades to continually assault women is finally seeing consequences. One must reap what they sow and I feel justice has been fairly served in this case.
We are all truly disappointed by the fact that Charles Duncan never showed any remorse and was unwilling to acknowledge his abusive behaviour or apologize. How could he possibly ever think he had done nothing wrong? Perhaps therein lies the problem.
Female, patient, age 62 at time of potential assault
I am conflicted in so many ways about this case and still think my experience falls into a grey zone. I cannot make any sense of the whole situation nor of the sentencing, especially the registration as a sex offender.
What I see in the pictures is a broken, frail man and, despite his actions, I have some compassion for him. I also have compassion for the many victims and hope the sentence helps them recover.
Female, patient, age 45 at time of assault
I am almost happy with the outcome. I would still want retribution for the quality of my life I have lost over what he did to my health—mental and physical. Which is a lot of time. I was 45 years old. I had a Harley that I wasn’t able to ride due to my health issues that were caused by that dirty, dirty person.
Male, patient, supporter
He was always kind and caring in the 40-plus years of my care.
I’m shocked at the outcome of this. I guess you don’t know the true person after 40 years of trust. I just wonder if the outcome would of been different if each case was separate. Questions were raised and when you pile evidence on top of evidence sometimes cases become muddied. Not saying what happened was right or wrong, just a thought.
Female, patient, age 47 at time of assault
Wasn’t this quite the roller coaster ride for all the victims who were able to have their days in court. I can only hope they find solace in their having the fortitude required to do what they have done. There are just not enough words to describe the respect they have from many of us in the community. Thank you, ladies, and please feel pride along with your relief that this is “over.”
As for Duncan’s sentence, will it ever be enough for his victims?
His continued denial and refusal to try and make amends speaks volumes. As he was able to foster a new “loving” relationship with a prominent member of the community, while out on bail, it leads me to believe he wasn’t nearly as concerned about his victims as having his own needs taken care of. Will custody be the same?
One would hope that time in custody will leave him thinking of others. I’m inclined to doubt it, though, because his health will give him all kinds of special statuses that as an ex-physician he will know how to play.
In the meantime, Mr. Duncan, I am very sorry for the legacy you have left your families. Especially your children and grandchildren.
Female, patient, supporter
Charles Duncan was our family’s doctor for 40 years. He provided excellent diagnoses and timely interventions that made a difference to our family. I know he worked long hours trying to get to the patients that needed him.
I was somewhat taken aback that Mr. Duncan is being sentenced to jail time. At his age and with two significant medical issues, it seems unduly harsh, smacking a little of vengeance, imposed by a judge with a resume of prosecuting sexual assaults.
House arrest, leaving only for medical appointments, might have provided the consequence deemed needed by the judge, even for a longer period of time if she felt it warranted. Because in fact, public humiliation and the stress of several years of notoriety in the public eye has been very punitive to date. The stress was telling on his appearance from the beginning, marriage ended, his family in the spotlight, etc.
All in all, it’s a sad story.
I feel that the sentence was probably not long enough (although if it is based on his age and physicality at this point, it’s probably enough) but I am glad he has to register as a sex offender. It is a shame that he was not exposed earlier. So many of his patients had put their trust in him over the years, many maybe not realizing that his conduct was not appropriate. I am in that cohort. I thought that doctor visits were supposed to be uncomfortable and that it was a normal part of exams. I am proud of the women that came forth and pressed charges. I’m forever in their debt.
Female, non-patient, 16 at the time of assault, 19 when pressing charges, 22 now
At the conclusion of the sexual assault trial, I experienced a multitude of emotions as I witnessed Judge Calderwood’s sentencing of Charles Duncan. It has been a lengthy and very difficult few years, and I have not yet been able to fully process that we have reached the end of the court proceedings.
Throughout the court process I was re-victimized, and it was an extremely traumatic experience to relive my assault and face my abuser. However, I am deeply grateful that through this process, Judge Calderwood was able to see the truth and reality surrounding the traumatic assaults Duncan committed. I feel strongly that justice has been served and I have a great sense of peace knowing that Duncan will finally be held accountable for the harm he has done and the pain he has caused many over decades.
It was very disappointing to watch Duncan shake his head in court, refusing to acknowledge or take responsibility for the abuse he has inflicted and the long-term damage he has caused, but I am grateful for the validation we as survivors have received through Judge Calderwood’s verdict and sentence. Now, Duncan must face the consequences of his personal choices and deliberate actions. I refuse to carry the burden of the shame and guilt that belongs to him alone.
In 2019, one brave survivor made a choice to make her voice heard, regardless of what people might think or say. As a result, I have been given the opportunity to seek justice and reclaim my voice. Through this process I have had the privilege to meet several of the strongest, most inspiring women, for whom I am forever grateful and share a deep connection with through our shared lived experiences. To others who may have a similar experience: please know that this victory is yours, too. Your experience is valid. You are seen. You are heard. You are believed. You are not alone. ◆