The College has zero tolerance for the sexual abuse of patients/clients. This is also mandated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). There are very specific processes and penalties attached to the sexual abuse provisions in the Health Professions Procedural Code (the Code) of the RHPA to achieve this end and to help in the prevention of further sexual abuse.
Under Section 85.1 of the Code, kinesiologists are required to file a report if they have reasonable grounds, obtained in the course of practising their profession, to believe that another kinesiologist or regulated health professional has sexually abused a patient/client. Employers and facility operators where regulated health professionals practise are also required to report sexual abuse.
Further information on the form and content of the report is available in the College’s mandatory reporting obligations. Kinesiologists are also encouraged to contact the College if they have any questions regarding when and how it is appropriate to make a report.
College procedures for handling sexual abuse matters
Once a report or complaint of sexual abuse is received by the College, there are specific and enhanced measures in place to ensure that they are handled sensitively, effectively and efficiently. Procedures are complainant/client-centred and designed to provide a safe and supportive environment to prevent re-victimization. Investigations into any allegations of sexual abuse will be fast-tracked by the College with a benchmark of five months for completion.
The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) is responsible for reviewing and screening all investigations and determining which matters are serious enough to be referred to the College’s Discipline process. In cases where allegations of sexual abuse are reported to the College or are discovered during an investigation, the ICRC will decide whether to make an interim order. An interim order may include a suspension of a kinesiologist’s licence to practice while the matter is under investigation, or ordering certain terms, conditions and limitations (e.g. a kinesiologist can only practise under the direct supervision of another regulated health professional).
The kinesiologist will be provided with notice of the ICRC’s intention to make an order and be provided with an opportunity to respond.
If the ICRC does make an order, the investigation will be prioritized and expedited. The ICRC has the authority to change the order at any time prior to its final disposition.
Most investigations into allegations of sexual abuse will be referred to the Discipline Committee by the ICRC because of the serious nature of sexual abuse, except in exceptional circumstances.
Alternative Dispute Resolution in an allegation of sexual abuse is not permitted.
If an allegation of sexual abuse is referred to Discipline, special measures are in place to foster a sensitive and fair process. Prosecutions for sexual abuse will be given priority and will be expedited. Procedures and penalties are also directed at the philosophy of zero tolerance and the eradication of sexual abuse within the health care context. These measures include the following:
- Interim orders restricting the kinesiologist’s practice or suspending their licence to practice during the discipline process.
- Witnesses who are describing sexual abuse can request and obtain an order prohibiting the publication of their identity.
- Witnesses who may be vulnerable when testifying can have a support person with them, testify away from the hearing room or behind a screen, and not be cross-examined directly by the kinesiologist.
- Special procedures regarding the production of any medical records about the complainant or victim to protect the complainant or victim from unnecessary trauma or invasion of privacy.
- Interested persons, such as the individual or an advocacy group, may request that they be made interveners who can participate in the hearing.
- If the kinesiologist is found to have engaged in sexual abuse, the patient/client can file a written statement describing the impact of the abuse.
Certain sexual acts with a patient/client will result in automatic, mandatory revocation of a member’s licence to practise for five years. These acts are prescribed in the Code as follows:
- sexual intercourse
- genital to genital, genital to anal, oral to genital, or oral to anal contact
- masturbation of the member by, or in the presence of, the patient
- masturbation of the patient by the member
- encouragement of the patient by the member to masturbate in the presence of the member
- touching of a sexual nature of the patient’s genitals, anus, breasts or buttocks
If the Discipline panel finds that these acts have been committed, the panel does not have discretion in the penalty. The penalty will also be effectively immediately as of the date of the finding is made at the hearing, regardless of when the decision is published or if the kinesiologist appeals the decision.
All other findings of sexual abuse that do not require mandatory revocation will carry a penalty that includes a suspension and an oral reprimand. The length of the suspension and any other terms, conditions or limitations are at the discretion of the Discipline panel.
Other potential orders of the Discipline panel after a finding of sexual abuse may include:
- Requiring the kinesiologist to pay a portion of the College’s investigation and prosecution costs.
- Requiring the kinesiologist to pay for the costs of any counseling or therapy for the victim.
A finding of professional misconduct, which includes sexual abuse, will be posted on the College’s Public Register and will be available to the public.