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Marathon trial continues for former Kitchener neurologist accused of sexual assault

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Warning: This story includes a discussion of sexual assault.

 

The trial of a former Kitchener, Ont. neurologist, accused of inappropriately touching dozens of his female patients, has reached another standstill.

It’s now been almost three years since Jeffrey Sloka’s trial started.

Sloka is facing 50 charges of sexual assault and has plead not guilty to all of them.

His judge-only trial began in September 2021. Court has already heard testimony from Sloka’s former patients who visited his private neurology practice in the Kaufman Building at Grand River Hospital between January 2010 and July 2017. They described being inappropriately draped, or completely naked, during breast exams, vaginal exams and other procedures.

Last summer, Sloka took the stand in his own defense. He disagreed with the patient testimonies, denied some incidents ever happened or offered medical reasons why he performed certain exams.

“Disturbing” case

The executive director of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region said they’ve been following Sloka’s case and call it “disturbing” – adding that health providers need to be held to a higher standard.

“Considering that people are coming [in], they're feeling vulnerable, they're feeling sick, they're feeling worried. Then to be in a place that they're supposed to be getting care, and instead they're harmed, is such an incredible violation,” Sara Casselman said.

She hopes Sloka’s trial wraps up soon – for the sake of the victims.

“I know originally there were 63 survivors involved in this case and, undoubtedly, it's had a significant impact on them. It would be like a wound that's just kept open for a long time,” Casselman explained.

Sloka originally pleaded not guilty to 63 counts of sexual assault but some of those charges have since been dropped.

Another delay

Oral and written submissions were expected this summer but that’s no longer the case.

According to Sloka’s defence lawyer, the trial has been adjourned until November. Seven days have been set aside for final arguments.

The Crown, his lawyer explained, was late in getting their written argument to the defence – which came in at approximately 1,750 pages.

The defence then said they needed time to prepare a comprehensive written response, which they expect to file by the end of this summer.

Lawyer’s reaction

Ari Goldkind, a criminal defence lawyer who isn’t involved in Sloka’s case, calls it a marathon trial.

“Two or three years to do a trial is, in my opinion, very long, unusually long. But given the skill of the lawyers involved here, given the nature of the charges, given the fact that a judge oversees everything, if he is not satisfied with what's happening, rest assured the lawyers will hear it.”

Goldkind said closing submissions are one of the most important parts of a trial.

“When you have written materials as a lawyer, whether you're a Crown or defense, you're hoping that the judge you're in front of adopts or takes to heart a lot of the words that you're writing, that they find their way into the court's judgment,” Goldkind explained.

The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region said, they’re hoping the trial wraps up as soon as possible.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, help is available. The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region's 24-hour support line can be reached at 519-741-8633.

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