An affair gone bad leads to plastic surgeon losing his license

April 30th, 2015 by

Dr. Sammy Sliwin and Ms. X had been engaged in a sexual relationship at Dr. Sliwin’s office in between Ms. X’s various plastic surgeries, which she had received free of charge for the last decade.

Their affair began on March 8, 2001  and the first encounter was so amazing that Ms. X ended up changing her bank account PIN number to 0308. Ms. X also kept a diary of all the sexual encounters and had a breast enlargement surgery within a week of the first encounter.

The two first met in 1988 when they were both already married. Ms. X worked infrequently for Sliwin as a receptionist and office manager throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Their conversations gradually become more flirtatious, and culminated in a sexual relationship.

In 2007, their affair ended, and Ms. X later made a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. In 2013, the College’s discipline committee found Dr. Sliwin to be guilty of sexual abuse, since Ms. X was his patient. The College rejected Sliwin’s defence that his relationship with Ms. X was not the typical doctor-patient relationship and that Ms. X was a “sophisticated consumer” of cosmetic surgeries.

Ms. X told the College their relationship was consensual, which is why Dr. Sliwin has not been criminally charged. Yet, for many years, courts have accepted the inherent power imbalance between a doctor and a patient, and have therefore concluded that no sexual relationship between a doctor and patient is truly consensual.

In April 2015, the College revoked Dr. Sliwin’s license.  In response, he launched an appeal arguing that the rules around mandatory revocation of licenses are unconstitutional. In the meantime, the court granted a “stay”, meaning Sliwin can continue to practise medicine while his appeal is pending.

In Ontario, doctors are not allowed to treat members of their family, or intimate partners, medically, except in narrowly defined circumstances.

Sliwin’s legal representative is the well-known lawyer Marie Henein, who is currently also representing Jian Ghomeshi.

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