TORONTO STAR PUBLISHED WED AUG 17, 2011
St. Mike’s denies sex assault in $2 million lawsuit Published On Wed Aug 17 2011Email Print Rss Article
Alyshah Hasham Staff Reporter
The sexual assault of a patient at St. Michael’s Hospital for which a security guard was convicted never happened, the hospital says in its defence against a lawsuit launched by the woman.
The 47-year-old woman is suing the hospital for $2 million after she was sexually assaulted twice while being treated for mental heath issues three years ago.
“They are making her retry her whole criminal court case again in civil court, when a criminal conviction was already proved beyond reasonable doubt,” said her lawyer, Brian Goldfinger.
“It’s a strategy from the defence’s perspective. Maybe they hope it’ll cause her a tougher time in court.”
In 2010, security guard Ronnie Donaldson, then 49, was jailed five months after being convicted of sexual assault.
In its statement of defence, St. Mike’s acknowledges the conviction occurred but “denies the truth” of the sexual assault.
The criminal trial was a nightmare, said the woman. It landed her back at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Heath, battling the depression that has plagued her life.
The idea of reliving it all in court again is unbearable, she said.
“Oh my God, I hope I don’t have to, it’s been hard enough already. I’d probably end up in the hospital again.”
St. Michael’s and its legal representatives had no comment on the ongoing case.
“The plaintiff has a long history of various physical and psychiatric difficulties. She has required hospitalization on numerous occasions. She is also known to exhibit manipulative behaviour,” said the hospital’s statement of defence.
The woman admits she has been called a good actress, often pretending to be recovered to leave CAMH.
She was admitted to St. Mike’s on July 2, 2008, after a failed suicide attempt police found her walking on the subway tracks. Three days later, a uniformed security guard approached her as she smoked a cigarette outside.
“(He) told me how nice I looked,” she said, adding he took her to see the helipad on the hospital roof, then sexually assaulted her in an empty lounge room.
She told no one and waited until she thought the guard had gone home before going out for another cigarette. But he was there, out of uniform this time. He led her to a washroom in a deserted area of the hospital, and sexually assaulted her again, she said.
She was heavily medicated at the time, she said. When he took her back to her ward, she called the rape crisis line and then police.
The hospital has not even apologized to her, she said.
“It’s been awful. The whole thing has been awful.”