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Calgary doctor facing new sexual assault charge

Updated: 3 days ago

By Meghan Grant - CBC News - 08/05/2024 - [Ali Ayyaz Chatha] - [CANADA]

A Calgary family doctor has been charged with sexual assault — the fourth time he's been accused of the same offence since 2017.


On Wednesday, police announced Dr. Ali Ayyaz Chatha, 34, faces one count of sexual assault stemming from an alleged incident in January 2023.


Court records show Chatha was charged with sexual assault on three previous occasions involving three different women but has never been convicted of that offence.


Defence lawyer Jennifer Ruttan who represents Chatha issued a brief statement Wednesday following a Calgary Police Service (CPS) press release.


"I emphasise he is presumed innocent of this charge and will diligently defend against this charge in court," said Ruttan.


Guilty of assault

Chatha was first accused of sexually assaulting a woman on July 4, 2017, but that charge was stayed in November 2019. He was accused and charged again on March 15, 2019, but the charge was withdrawn two years later. A third sexual assault charge was laid against Chatha for an incident on Jan. 9, 2020.


In that case, Chatha pleaded guilty to common assault in June 2021 and was handed a conditional discharge and placed on probation for one year. The sexual assault charge was withdrawn.


A conditional discharge means there was a finding of guilty but a conviction is not registered.


In the most recent case, Chatha is accused of meeting a woman at the Cowboys Dance Hall near Stampede Park on Jan. 14, 2023.


Woman taken to hotel room

The two did not know each other before that night, according to police. Shortly after meeting, police say Chatha and the woman took a taxi to a nearby hotel, where he rented a room.


That's where investigators alleged the woman was sexually assaulted. The alleged victim left the hotel and reported the incident to police. The investigation involved speaking with witnesses and collecting and processing DNA evidence, according to CPS.


"These types of crimes can be extremely personal and sensitive, and I want to thank the victim for coming forward to police and reporting this incident to us," Staff Sgt. Tom Hanson with the sexual assault investigation unit.


CPSA investigation

In a brief statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) said criminal charges against a physician triggers an automatic investigation.


"When CPSA becomes aware of criminal charges against a physician, we will open a complaint and subsequent investigation to gather information and determine next steps," wrote the CPSA.


"This could include practice conditions on a physician's permit, or the physician's withdrawal or suspension from practice, depending on the seriousness of the allegations and the risk to patient safety."


Chatha is listed on the CPSA website as an active member with no conditions on his practice permit.


According to its website, "CPSA is unable to disclose information related to matters that may be under investigation, and cannot speak publicly about a complaint unless it has gone through a formal hearing."


Chatha has no disciplinary history, according to the CPSA website. He is due to make his first court appearance on May 28.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Dignity4Patients, whose helpline is open Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm.

 
 

Dignity4Patients Commentary: In the interests of #PatientSafety, what is the acceptable duration for a doctor facing allegations of #SexualAbuse to practice without restrictions on their medical license? At what point should the number of #SexualAssault accusations prompt limitations on a doctor's ability to treat patients?


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