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'I felt betrayed': Former patient takes stand in Manitoba doctor's sexual assault trial

Embarrassed and betrayed – that's how one woman testified she felt after a physical examination from her doctor who is now accused of sexually assaulting several of his female patients.

Arcel Bissonnette, a doctor formerly working at the Ste-Anne Hospital and the Ste-Anne Medical Centre, was charged with 22 counts of sexual assault which are alleged to have happened between 2004 and 2017.

Six of the charges against him were stayed by the Crown earlier this year. However, Bissonnette was back in Manitoba's Court of King's Bench for the next set of charges he's facing.

Bissonnette's current trial is dealing with six counts of sexual assault – one of which has been stayed.

"The Crown’s theory is that Dr. Bissonnette used his position of trust and authority as a medical doctor to sexually assault patients who were seeing him for intimate and private medical examinations," Crown Attorney Renee Lagimodiere said during her opening comments on Monday.

She said the Crown intends to call five women as witnesses in their case, and will be arguing that all five women were sexually assaulted by Bissonnette.

“None of these women consented to being touched in a sexual manner," Lagimodiere said.

One of the women, called as a witness on Monday, said it happened to her during a physical performed by Bissonnette in February 2015.

"I felt embarrassed. I guess I felt betrayed in a way, too. Who are you to trust if you can’t trust your doctor?” the woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, told the court.

She testified that years later, in November 2020, she heard through the media that Bissonnette had been charged with sexual assault.

That's when she decided to come forward.

"When I realized that there were other people out there that may have gone through the same situation, that I felt it should be our duty to let the authorities know that a trust was taken away,” she testified.

In cross-examination, Defence Counsel Lisa LaBossiere questioned the woman's recollection of the events.

“As time goes on, you would agree that sometimes memories fade, details get dulled, things like that?" LaBossiere asked the woman.

"Yes," she responded.

LaBossiere also pointed out differences between the statement the woman gave to police and Crown attorneys, and the testimony she provided today in court.

Bissonnette has pleaded not guilty and is considered innocent.

This trial is scheduled to continue for four weeks.

The remaining 10 charges against Bissonnette are scheduled to go to trial in February 2024. Top Stories


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