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Former Barrie dentist questions college's sexual-abuse finding

'My assertion was this was dentistry that I did on my girlfriend,' says Adam Chapnick
Adam Chapnick had his licence revoked by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario on April 26.

The now-former dentist at the centre of a probe that saw his licence revoked says he believes the college that disciplined him should have provided more context about its findings.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) revoked Adam Chapnick’s licence on April 26, finding him guilty of seven offences after two investigations. Those offences included:

  • Sexual abuse of a patient.
  • Prescribed, dispensed or sold a drug for an improper purpose, or inappropriately used authority to prescribe.
  • Recommended or provided an unnecessary dental service.
  • Contravened a standard of practice or failed to maintain the standards of practice of the profession.
  • Contravened the standards of practice in relation to inducing general anesthesia or conscious sedation.
  • Disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional, or unethical conduct.
  • Failed to keep records as required by the regulations.

Chapnick previously owned and worked at a Toronto clinic as well as Molson Park Dental in south-end Barrie, a practice he sold in 2021 and is no longer affiliated with.

While a detailed summary from the RCDSO about its findings is expected in the coming weeks, Chapnick responded to a message from BarrieToday after the initial story was published on Tuesday. In a telephone interview Thursday morning, he disputed some of the language used by the college in its decision.

Chapnick also said he did not respond to requests for comment earlier because he was under the impression there was a publication ban.

“There was a publication ban and I felt it was inappropriate and unfair for me to reach out or speak about it,” he said. “Now that I’ve seen that you obviously did speak to the RCDSO, I feel more at liberty to do the same.”

BarrieToday asked the RCDSO if there was a publication ban on the file.

“The media and the public can attend a hearing and the media can report on a hearing and publish the name of a dentist,” said communications director Lesley Byrne. “We request a publication ban of all patient names. The published decision will include a copy of the publication ban.”

Chapnick said he believes the term ‘sexual abuse’ is misleading.

“There was never even a complaint of sexual abuse, ever in my career, to the RCDSO,” he said. “My assertion was this was dentistry that I did on my girlfriend.

“If you want to get into the facts of the case, I met this woman in 2014. That’s when we made first contact,” Chapnick added. “We had been intimate on a regular relationship basis. She was my girlfriend. She needed a check-up and I told her to go see my hygienist.

“This legislation is designed to protect patients from a predator, or someone abusing their power to influence a patient. This was not a patient. We had already slept together; she was my girlfriend and we lived together for part of the relationship,” he said.

At the RCDSO, Byrne explained the college’s view: “Any dentist who is in a sexual relationship with a patient is engaged in sexual abuse, as defined in the Regulated Health Professions Act. The college has zero tolerance for a dentist engaging in any form of sexual relationship with a patient.”

Byrne added Chapnick was found guilty by the college’s disciplinary panel of having “committed sexual abuse of a patient.”

She also provided general examples, as defined by the Regulated Health Professions Act:

  • has physical sexual relations with a patient
  • touches a patient in a sexual manner (for example, stroking a patient’s hip or thigh)
  • behaves in a sexual manner toward a patient (for example, touching a patient’s hand in a manner that suggests a sexual interest in the patient, or staring at a patient’s breasts)
  • makes remarks of a sexual nature to a patient (for example, making sexualized jokes).

Given he is now disputing some of the college’s findings, Chapnick was asked why he didn’t appeal, specifically about the term ‘sexual abuse.’

“I fought it as much as I could, but did I have sex with this woman? Did I treat her at any point in the office during the relationship? And the answer is yes,” he said. “I can’t deny that fact.

“I made a mistake and was hoping that they would take into consideration that the discipline committee would see I was agreeing to everything, I’ve been co-operative, would see the facts of the case and, in this circumstance, the punishment does not need to be as severe,” he added.

Chapnick says he doesn’t believe all cases should be painted with the same brush, but added that, in the eyes of the college and its investigation, “this becomes a serious allegation.”

Byrne reiterated the college’s stance and the language it uses in its findings.

“The college has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual relations between dentists and patients,” she said. “Patients can’t consent to having a sexual relationship with a treating dentist, or any regulated health practitioner.

“Patient sexual abuse is different from the criminal act of sexual assault (under the Criminal Code),” Byrne added. “It does not matter if the person who was involved with the dentist was an intimate partner who became a patient, or vice versa. The fact that a dentist is having sexual relations with a patient is sexual abuse.”

Chapnick also said that had it not been for the sexual-abuse investigation, he doesn’t believe the other offences would have warranted his licence being revoked.

When asked for the college’s view on that opinion, Byrne told BarrieToday, “It’s too speculative to answer.”

“The college cannot state what the discipline panel would have decided without the sexual-abuse allegation,” she said.

As for the offence of “prescribed, dispensed or sold a drug for an improper purpose, or inappropriately used authority to prescribe,” Chapnick took issue with the implication of selling drugs.

“I’m sure what they print is in an agreed statement of facts. There is certainly context that goes with the case,” he said. “In one instance, I gave a prescription that was an excessive number of pills — I gave 30 pills instead of 24. Did I do it? Yes, I’m guilty as charged. It was a mistake.

“I did it for a patient that I extracted six teeth on,” Chapnick said. “It was a mistake and I accept that punishment, but would I lose my licence for giving extra pills? No.”

The RCDSO says more details will be included in the decision summary, which Chapnick says he welcomes.

“When you look at the motivation, that’s the context,” he said. “What was my motivation of what they call sexual abuse? Well, I was taking care of my girlfriend’s dental problem. In this case of prescribing extra pills, I was trying to keep a patient pain-free. In every instance, I don’t deny things I did, but there is a compassionate motivation.”