Dentist wants assault charges involving kid patients dropped

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A dentist in Canada who allegedly physically assaulted pediatric patients in 1970s and 1980s wants the charges dropped because he can’t put forth a proper defense, according to a story published on January 5 by CBC News.

Dr. Errol Gaum, 81, who pleaded not guilty to eight assault charges stemming from six patients, claimed that medical records had been destroyed and former assistants couldn’t testify on his behalf, which prevents him from having a fair trial, according to the story. Gaum is scheduled to be back in court on January 12.

During the dentist’s 50-year career, Gaum had approximately 90,000 patient visits -- most of which were one-time appointments during which patients were sedated for specialty treatment -- to his practices. Gaum, whose license was suspended in November 2020, testified that he doesn’t remember any of the patients who initiated the charges against him but said he frequently administered Mellaril, which he stated would cause kids to hallucinate, according to the story.

In 2005, drug maker Novartis withdrew Mellaril, which was widely used for the treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis, worldwide due to an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death.

Throughout the years, Gaum reportedly slapped kids. In one incident, a child’s face was hit against a sink. The sink incident required the child to get stitches, according to the story.

In addition to Gaum testifying that he doesn’t remember patients, he said that their medical records were gone since they were destroyed after seven years. The records, which listed medications and treatments kids received and how they reacted during care, were prepared by assistants.

The dentist’s representative argued that without the patient records, it would be impossible for Gaum to know which patients had been sedated and it would affect Gaum and his attorney from calling experts to testify.

Also, Gaum testified that he didn’t remember any of the names of the assistants who worked for him during those years. Police have only located one of his former employees who reportedly said that she never saw Gaum assault a child, according to the story.

In December 2023, 29 of his former patients filed a lawsuit against Gaum. None of them are part of the criminal case against him.

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