TORONTO — Dr. George Doodnaught has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting 21 women during surgery at a Toronto hospital.
The disgraced anesthesiologist showed no emotion as he was led away in handcuffs from the courtroom while many of his victims smiled and applauded.
Justice David McCombs said the court had a duty to send a strong message reflecting society's "abhorrence" for his conduct and breach of trust.
"The offender's moral blameworthiness is the high end of the spectrum. His conduct did enormous damage and was reprehensible in the extreme. It must be condemned in the strongest of terms," the judge said.
Defence lawyer Brian Greenspan said his client was disappointed and plans to appeal his convictions.
Greenspan asked the judge to recommend that the 65-year-old anesthesiologist be placed in protective custody.
The Crown had asked for a stiffer sentence of 12 to 15 years.
Doodnaught was found guilty of 21 counts of sexual assault in November for forcing his patients to engage in sexual acts while they were conscious but sedated during operations.
Doodnaught committed the offences — including kissing, touching, fondling and oral sex — during surgeries between February 2006 and February 2010.
Doodnaught was widely respected at North York General Hospital, where he worked from 1981 until he was charged in 2010.
"He exploited the trust he was given and used it to enable him to commit his crimes. He paid no heed to the harm it was doing to his victims, who were sedated but aware of what was happening to them and unable to fight back," the judge said.