Suit alleges psychiatrist took nude photos of 14-year-old patient

August 2, 2013

A young woman is suing a Halifax psychiatrist for allegedly taking nude photos of her during the course of an appointment with him.

The claimant, who was about 14 years old at the time, went to Dr. Curtis Steele for treatment of “attention deficient and depressive symptoms” in 2003, a statement of claim filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court alleges.

“During their last appointment, the defendant informed the plaintiff that he was a photographer,” the claim filed Thursday alleges.

“(Steele) asked the plaintiff if she would do some modelling for him. … At the inducement of the defendant, the plaintiff got completely undressed while he left the room,” the claim alleges.

“The defendant returned several minutes later and proceeded to take photographs of the plaintiff’s fully nude body in his office.”

The girl got dressed; before leaving, Steele advised her not to tell anyone, the claim alleges.

She never went back to Steele, states the claim.

The woman is suing the doctor for treating her in a “sexually inappropriate manner” and alleges her psychiatric treatment “fell below the knowledge, competence and skill of a similarly qualified psychiatrist,” according to the court papers.

Her lawyers, Wagners of Halifax, also allege she suffered harm because of the incident.

“The power entrusted in psychiatrists, particularly psychiatrists of children in need of care, must not be used in corrupt ways,” lawyer Mike Dull wrote in the claim.

“The defendant was to provide a place of sanctity, nurture and trust.”

The woman alleges a breach of fiduciary duty and is seeking aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages, the claim states.

The claimant, now in her mid-20s, did not want to speak to the media when contacted through her lawyer Thursday.

Reached Thursday, Steele said he was not aware of the statement of claim.

“I don’t want to comment until I’ve been notified,” he said.

The allegations have not been proven in court, and Steele has not yet filed a defence.

Source: Eva Hoare, "Woman sues psychiatrist over photos," Herald News, August 1, 2013.


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