The Crown stated during a sentencing hearing for Keith Hoyte, a disgraced Calgary doctor who has confessed to sexually assaulting 55 female patients, that a complaint made in 1997 to Alberta’s College of Physicians and Surgeons should have served as a warning.
Prosecutor Rosalind Greenwood contended that the 75-year-old former neurologist should be sentenced to an additional three years in prison, whereas defense attorney Alain Hepner requested the judge to take into account a two-year imprisonment period.
Justice Allan Fradsham is expected to announce his ruling at the beginning of the upcoming year.
Hoyte faced his initial charges in 2018. In 2020, he received a three-year prison term after admitting guilt for 28 instances of sexual assault.
He has been freed from prison since then.
Following the initial wave of charges, numerous additional women approached the police.
In December of last year, Hoyte admitted his guilt in 27 additional cases of sexual assault.
The woman, all female patients who ranged in age from 16 to 46, were groped and fondled by Hoyte. It started in 1983 and continued until he retired in 2013.
During the span of 30 years, Hoyte would tell his female patients, who were experiencing severe neurological conditions such as migraines, seizures, strokes, and multiple sclerosis, to remove their clothing.
He’d then untie and lower the gowns before fondling his victims’ breasts, according to an agreed statement of facts presented as part of the retired doctor’s guilty plea last December.
At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, a total of 17 victim impact statements were presented, with some being read out by the affected women themselves.
The identities of the victims are safeguarded by a publication ban.
‘Ultimate abuse of power’
One victim stated that the actions of the neurologist, to whom they were referred when already in a vulnerable state, were “the ultimate abuse of power”.
A different woman claimed that following the assault by Hoyte, he heartlessly informed her that she had MS, a condition that was considered a serious threat to her life back then.
Some women expressed their anxiety in seeking medical attention, resulting in postponing care and treatment for their health issues.
One woman expressed feeling paralyzed by the immense power and authority he possessed as a medical practitioner.
‘A shot across the bow’
During the sentencing arguments, Greenwood informed the court that a complaint regarding Hoyte’s inappropriate touching of a patient in 1997 was reported to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
The college could not disregard the possibility of a clinical explanation, thus the complaint was dismissed. However, it did determine that the touching was not acceptable.
Greenwood stated that this should have served as a warning to Keith Hoyte.
“He was apprehended and received a discussion regarding engaging in inappropriate physical contact.”
However, Hoyte persistently engaged in sexual assault against patients.
‘I’m truly sorry’
During the defense’s presentation on the appropriate punishment, Hepner informed the judge that his client had actively participated in the profession for more than 45 years.
Hoyte took the chance to express his remorse to both his victims and his family.
“Personal shame cannot describe the way I feel,” said Hoyte.
He recognized the lasting impact on his victims and stated that he would not seek forgiveness.
“I deeply regret causing you and my entire family pain. I sincerely apologize.”