Straight Talk
MICHELE MANDEL - Pediatrician convicted of sexually exploiting teenage patient treating teens at counselling practice

Dr. Jeffrey Seidman leaves after a hearing at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Toronto on Tuesday August 21, 2012.

Credits: ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI AGENCY

QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- A disgraced pediatrician who was stripped of his medical licence and convicted of the sexual exploitation of a teenage patient is now running a counselling practice where he has treated teens and sexual assault victims.

But Dr. Jeffrey Seidman, who's fighting to have his licence reinstated, doesn't seem to view that as any kind of boundary issue -- just as the 58-year-old convicted sex offender still maintains there was no power imbalance between him and his suicidal teenage victim nor anything wrong with his more recent efforts to meet 17-year-old "Emily," to whom he had sent sexually suggestive messages on Facebook.

Oh, and the avid ballroom dancer also told a psychiatrist that he finds girls who are 17 and 18 "especially attractive."

Maybe it's just me, but aren't the warning bells pealing?

It seems the College of Physicians and Surgeons heard them as well, using a male investigator to pose as an attractive 17-year-old girl on Facebook. Seidman quickly took the bait -- but while to his credit he declined "her" offer to come to her home to be treated or to show a photo of his penis, he did arrange to meet her at a restaurant and later confessed that he was serious about having a romantic relationship with the teen almost 40 years his junior if she was "fabulous."

Does he deserve a second chance?

The former Scarborough pediatrician had his medical licence revoked in 2003 after admitting to a three-year sexual relationship with a vulnerable female patient that began in late 1991 when she was 15. While they stopped short of sexual intercourse, she slept over in his bed, they had showers together and engaged in intimate sexual touching. In what can only be seen as horrible irony, Seidman was a member of the sexual assault team at Scarborough Grace Hospital at the time and surely knew better.

He blamed his behaviour then on mental and physical health issues exacerbated by his use of Ritalin, telling his disciplinary hearing at the College of Physicians and Surgeons that he was convinced he was the messiah at the time and could cure cancer and AIDS.

"I believed God was sending me messages through episodes of Star Trek," Seidman told the college in 2002. "I began to think human beings were being poisoned by copper (plumbing)."

In addition to losing his medical licence, Seidman pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation in 2003 and received a 15-month conditional sentence.

Now a decade later, Seidman believes his licence should be returned.

At his ongoing reinstatement hearing Wednesday, Dr. Steve Hucker, a Kingston-area forensic psychiatrist, testified Seidman hasn't suffered any mental-health issues for 18 years and should be reinstated, but with someone monitoring him while he treats female patients.

But in cross-examination, college lawyer Morgana Kellythorne pressed Hucker about Seidman's activity on Facebook: the defrocked pediatrician implied he was still a practising doctor in chats with young female friends he'd met on the Toronto dance scene, boasting of treating different patients. And in the summer of 2010 came that exchange of "sexually suggestive" messages with the male college investigator who had posed as 17-year-old "Emily."

Has he really learned from his past mistakes?

In 2008, Seidman even took on a 17-year-old female counselling client who complained she had been the victim of sexual touching. It was Hucker who had to point out to him that despite his wish to be helpful, this was exactly the kind of young and vulnerable client he shouldn't be treating.

The forensic psychiatrist admitted he was "disappointed" Seidman wasn't truthful on Facebook about losing his licence to practise and wasn't aware that the users' agreement on the social media website blocks members who are convicted sex offenders.

In Seidman's defence, Hucker insisted that while there may be a social stigma against it, there was nothing "deviant" about the former doctor's attraction to much younger women.

That may be so -- Lord knows the world is filled with legions of dirty old men -- but surely it's rather concerning if you want to go back to being a pediatrician who treats that age group?

The hearing continues.

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