Monday, February 29, 2016

"Because it's 2015 !" Does Not Include the Right of African-Canadians to Equality - Why ?

     When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about his gender-equal cabinet he proudly proclaimed "because it's 2015" - signaling that the times have changed. Gone are the days when cabinets were dominated by men.  Mr. Trudeau's cabinet appeared sensitive to every group in the Canadian Mosaic except for African-Canadians.  Not a single person of African-Canadian background was appointed to Mr. Trudeau's cabinet.

     The mainstream media and the usual learned pundits were silent on this omission.  The burning question is why.  Why is it that such an obvious omission as excluding African-Canadians from representation in the Trudeau cabinet is capable of being unnewsworthy in 2015 ?  The simple answer is because our law permits it.  Rather than establish and promote a consistent jurisprudence in the area of racial discrimination and equality for all our law appears to be be content with a selective and piece-meal approach to adjudicating these issues in a manner that perpetuates this exclusion.  In the final analysis a society's laws generally reflect and mirror the society's values and ideals.

     The threat and social stigma of being branded a racist in Canadian society would appear to take precedence over the actualization of equality for African-Canadians.  Public pronouncements and announcements that suggest that "we are not racist" are the preferred antidote to combating this social ill.  Indeed, it is not uncommon for both individuals and institutions to shrug-off discriminatory conduct on their part with the allegation that the recipient of their inappropriate conduct is accusing them of racism.   Again, why is that ?  Where does this approach come from ?

     One source for this approach is the development or absence of development of our laws in this area. Although the elected legislatures in Canada have passed legislation prohibiting racial discrimination,  the adoption of the public policy articulated in these legislative enactments have not been well-received by the courts.  I have two sound reasons for this criticism.  Firstly, it must be recognized and acknowledged that these rights are not common law rights but are rights which arise from statutory enactments which our law makers have had to enact on account of the historical failure of the common law to address the issue.  Secondly, these rights must be adjudicated not from a common law perspective but from a perspective grounded in the jurisprudence flowing from the statutory bodies established to address them.  The call for direct evidence to support a finding of racial discrimination in 2015 is tantamount to the historical call for corroboration of a woman's claim of sexual assault.

     As Morden J.A. recognized in R  v.  Brown 2003 Canli 52142 (ONCA):  [44]  A racial profiling claim could rarely be proven by direct evidence.  This would involve an admission by a police officer that he or she was influenced by racial stereotypes in the exercise of his or her discretion to stop a motorist.  Accordingly, if racial profiling is to be proven it must be done by inference from circumstantial evidence.  This simple statement is true of all manifestations of racial discrimination - be it in the criminal justice system or in the workplace.

     However, this analysis is not applied when it comes to the adjudication of these rights - i.e. the right to be free against discrimination and harassment on the basis of race under the Code - with respect to the employment context.  In Johnson  v.  General Motors 2013 ONCA 502 the Court of Appeal overturned a trial judge's finding of constructive dismissal of an African-Canadian employee on the basis of racial discrimination finding, among other grounds, that there was no direct evidence of racism towards him by anyone. The following excerpts from the court's reasons in Johnson supra illustrate my point with respect to what appears to be an improperly weighted interest in the possible damage to the reputation of the perpetrator flowing from such allegations:

[4]   An allegation of discriminatory treatment in the workplace due to racism is a serious claim that implicates the reputational and employment interests of the claimant, as well as those of the alleged perpetrators.  It can also affect the dignity, self-worth and health of both the alleged victim and those accused of racist conduct.  An allegation of this type can reverberate for many years afte the incident or incidents in question, with potentially long-term consequences for call concerned.

[5]   No less serious are judicial findings of racially-motivated conduct in the workplace and a poisoned work environment due to racism.  Judicial consideration of an allegation of constructive dismissal based on alleged racism in the workplace requires careful scrutiny of and balanced attention to all the evidence relating to the allegation in order to determine whether it is more likely than not that the alleged racism occurred.

     There are countless legal points which I could raise about the manner in which the Johnson supra case was decided but that is not the subject of my post today on the close of what has come to be known as Black History Month.  My point is merely to highlight what I see as the answer to the question raised above.  In Johnson supra the legal obligation on the employer to provide a place which is free of discrimination and harassment is not mentioned in the decision.  Johnson's beef at the end of the day is that his employer failed to protect him from racial discrimination which resulted in an authorizied medical leave of absence and consequently amounted to constructive dismissal. The approach in Johnson supra is to be contrasted to Bannister  v.  General Motors where a longtime supervisor's dismissal for cause was upheld on the basis of the supervisor's failure to uphold the employer's anti-harassment policy. Here the court clearly recognized that the employer had a statutory duty to provide a harassment free workplace and that if the supervisor was involved in such conduct then he was not carrying out his managerial duty.  Poor Mr. Johnson was carrying his managerial training duties and Mr. Markov would not report to him.  The employer suspended Mr. Markov for five days only to later rescind it.  The trial judge found that "GM was "instrumental in having , Markov's 5 day period of suspension over-turned in an effort to influence contractual negotiations" with the union. He accepted Johnson's assertion that, in so doing, GM "traded away Johnson's human rights as a bargaining chip."

     The problem of racial discrimination against African-Canadians in Canada is beyond the status of requiring any further study.  Let us stop pretending that it requires more study and or it is a perception held by African-Canadians only.  It is 2015 - the notion that racial discrimination can only be proven by direct evidence is as outdated as the notion that she "asked for it."  Inequality in the workplace and in the courts transcends into inequality for African-Canadians everywhere in Canadian society.  We can do better as a society.  Let's try harder.  It's 2016 for God's sake !


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Administrative Law in Canada by Sara Blake: The Need for a Quorum

The Need for a Quorum:

   A quorum prescribes the minimum number of members of the tribunal who are required to hear a case.

   Where a quorum is prescribed by statute or regulation, a hearing by fewer than that number is invalid and a decision is void.  If one member dies, becomes too ill to continue, or is removed from the panel, leaving no quorum, the remaining members may not continue with the hearing.  They cannot continue even if the absent member is replaced, because the replacement has not heard the evidence presented before he or she joined the panel.  A new panel must commence the hearing anew. Similarly, if the tribunal is constituted by a single person who is unable to complete the proceeding, the replacement must start the proceeding anew.  Lack of a prescribed quorum cannot be waived by the parties.  However, a change in the panel members part way through a hearing may be waived.  (at p.52-53)

*Administrative Law in Canada by Sara Blake - published by Butterworths, Counsel with the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Divisional Court Holds that Panel's Reasons so Flawed as to be Unreasonable: Stefanov v. College of Massage Therapists

     The assessment and weighing of evidence in any legal proceeding be it civil or criminal is a vitally important aspect of the proceeding.  The failure of any tribunal to weigh and assess the evidence of witnesses in a judicious manner is a well recognized error of law.  A tribunal which is formally put on notice by independent counsel that it retains that a motion seeking a stay on the basis that delay has compromised both the credibility and reliability of evidence is a live issue - undertakes to consider the issue following a hearing of all of the evidence and fails to consider this issue in upholding the allegations has committed serious and fundamental legal error.

     The Divisional Court recently dealt with the issue of an inferior tribunal's failure to properly assess and evaluate credibility and reliability of evidence in the context of an allegation of sexual abuse in the professional discipline setting involving a massage therapist.  In a nutshell, their decision reveals that the tribunal's failure to properly assess and weigh the evidence is a fatal error.  The finding of professional misconduct can not stand.  It was not necessary to address penalty.

CITATION:  Stefanov  v. College  of Massage  Therapists   of Ontario,  2016 ONSC 848


DATE: 20160210

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)






Michael B. Fraleigh and Martine Garland, for  the Appellant

Jaan Lilles and Ian MacLeod, for the Respondent


HEARD  at Toronto:  January  11, 2016

C.           HORKINS J.


[1]  The   appellant,   Stefan  Stefanov,  appeals  the  decision  of  the  Discipline   Committee   Panel  (the "Panel") of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (the “College”) dated May 8, 2014 (“decision”).

[2] The Panel found  that  Mr.  Stefanov  breached  standard  of  practice  of  the  profession, engaged in sexual abuse of a patient and engaged in conduct or performed an act relevant  to  the practice of the profession that, having regard  to  all  the  circumstances,  would  reasonably  be  regarded  by members  as disgraceful,  dishonourable  or unprofessional.

[3] Mr. Stefanov also  appeals  the  Panel's  penalty  decision made  on September  19, 2014. The Panel ordered,  among  other  things, that  Mr.  Stefanov's  certificate  of  registration  be  suspended  for  a period  of twelve months.

[4] Mr. Stefanov  seeks  an order  that  the  decision be set aside  and  a declaration that  he  is  not guilty   of  professional  misconduct   and   sexual  abuse  as  alleged.   In  the   alternative,   he   seeks  an order  that  the  allegations  of  professional  misconduct  and  sexual  abuse  against   him  be  remitted for  a new hearing  before  a differently  constituted   panel  of the  Discipline Committee.

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[5]  Lastly,  Mr.  Stefanov  seeks  an  order  that the  Penalty Order  be  quashed  or,  in  the alternative,   reduced and an order for  costs of this  appeal.

[6]   For  reasons  that  are  set  out  below,  I conclude  that the  reasons of the  Panel are  so flawed  that the Panel produced an unreasonable result. The  appeal  must  therefore  be  allowed  and  the  matter referred back for a new hearing before a differently constituted panel of the Discipline  Committee.


[7] The events giving rise to the decision occurred on December 12, 2011.  On that  day,  the  respondent  DH  attended  at  Elmwood   Spa   ("Spa")   for   a   massage   therapy   treatment   with   Mr. Stefanov.

[8]  Mr.  Stefanov  has  been  registered with  the  College  since  September  2009  and   has  continued to work at the Spa since May 2011. He received his  degree  in  Kinesiology  and  a Certificate for Reflexology and Sports Massage from the  National  Sports  Academy  in  Sofia,  Bulgaria. He practiced in Bulgaria for several years before moving to  Canada  and  receiving  his  diploma  from  the Wellspring  College  of Massage  Therapy  and Aesthetics   in  2009.

[9] At the time of the hearing, DH was a thirty-eight year  old  graduate student  in  clinical developmental psychology. DH has two undergraduate Arts degrees, one with concentration  in  theatre and the other with a concentration  in  psychology.  Her  evidence  was  that she  had received over one  hundred  massages  in  her lifetime.

[10] When DH arrived at the Spa on December 12, 2011, she completed a health history form electronically on a computer in  the  reception  area.  DH  then  went  to  the  ladies  change  room,  where she met her  friend,  and  they  went  to  use  the  pool  facilities.  DH  and  her  friend  changed  into  robes and sat in  the waiting  area for  the massage  therapy  to  begin.

[11] Mr.  Stefanov  introduced  himself  to  DH  and  then  directed  DH  to  the  Turquoise  Room for her massage therapy treatment. Mr. Stefanov  reviewed  and  discussed  the  health  history  with  DH. DH specified that she had tension due to stress and  that she  wanted  him to  work  on her forearms, outer  hips  and IT bands. DH wanted  deep tissue  massage  in  these  areas.

[12] Mr. Stefanov left the room. DH then disrobed, laid  face  down  on  the  massage  table  and covered  herself  with  the sheets  on the table.

[13] Mr. Stefanov's evidence  was  that  the  massage  rooms  at  the  Spa  were  set  up  with  two  sheets and one duvet blanket. DH could not recall if  there  were  one  or  two  sheets  or  a  duvet  cover.

[14]  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that  when  he  returned  to  the  room,  he  performed  the  massage  of DH according to  Spa  protocol.  While DH  was  lying  face  down  (“prone  positionhe  massaged the upper body, including shoulders and  back,  followed  by  the  legs.  After  DH  turned  over  to  lie face  up (“supine   position”),   he then  massaged  the upper  legs,  lower  legs  and then  upper body.

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)Body Massage  in Prone Position

[15]  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that  he  undraped  the  sheets  from  DH's  back,  covering  the  lower  part of her  body from  the waist  down.  He then  massaged  DH's shoulders,   upper back and neck.

[16] According to Mr.  Stefanov, after  he  completed the  massage  of  DH's  upper  back  and shoulder area, he re-draped DH's  lower  back to  the  posterior superior iliac  spine  ("PSIS")  level at the end of the lumbar curve, and tucked the drape underneath the  outside  of the  hips  so  that  the border of the drape was at the PSIS level. The positioning of the drape stayed at the same level throughout   the  lower  back massage  and always  maintained   coverage  of DH's buttocks.

[17]  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that,  during  the  massage, he  asked  DH  whether   she   was comfortable   and she  answered yes.

[18]  DH's  evidence  about  this   portion   of  the   massage   is   very   different.   DH   testified   that Mr. Stefanov exposed her buttocks and massaged her  buttocks with  "one  hand  going counterclockwise and the other hand going clockwise  around  my  butt  cheeks".  DH  went  on  to testify  that  "at  one point  he asked me  if  I was comfortable".   DH replied:  guessed  it  was okay".

[19] DH testified that  she  asked  Mr.  Stefanov to  massage  her  outer  hips  and IT band and that when he massaged the outer hip and IT band, "he draped  the  buttock  cheek  of the  side  that  he wasn't  working on".

[20] DH  testified  that, at  this point,  Mr.  Stefanov  fully  undraped  her  buttocks  again  and massaged her buttocks  in  circular  motion.  He  circled  around  the  outside  of her butt cheeks  and, as he came around the bottom of her  buttocks,  she  felt  his  thumbs  go  into  the  crack  of her  butt. DH testified that this happened twice and, on the second  occasion,  she  said: "I  felt  his  thumbs  go inside  the  crack and  I felt  one of his  thumbs   touch my  labia".

[21]  Mr.  Stefanov  denied ever  pulling  the  covers  down  to  expose  DH's  buttocks.  He  also  stated that  he never  massaged  DH's buttocks  in  a circular   motion  and did not  touch DH's  labia.

[22] Mr. Stefanov testified that  DH  never  expressed  any  concerns  during  the  massage  and  her body was quiet. He explained this to  mean  that,  if  the  body  is  uncomfortable,  the  patient  would  have visible  body  reaction,  including  tremors  or  muscle  contractions,  or  she  may  make  sounds or request  him  to stop. Mr. Stefanov  stated that  none  of these  signs   was present  with DH.

Lower Legs in Prone Position

[23]  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that  once  he  completed  the  massage  of DH's lower back, he  draped the  back  and  arms  to  temporarily  provide  full  body drape.  He  then  moved  down to the  side of table and undraped the blanket from ankle to knee and from knee to hip area, with the  sheet still  covering the  body.  Mr.  Stefanov then  undraped  the  sheet  from ankle  to knee and tucked this  into the inside of the  leg.  He  then  slightly  elevated  each leg  with  his  hands  and  tucked  the  sheet  into  the  outside  of the  hip  area, creating  a diagonal  from  knee to hamstring.

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[24]  Mr.  Stefanov  then massaged DH's  legs,  one  leg   at  a  time,   including   her   hamstrings, calves,  ankles  and feet.  DH's evidence  was consistent   with  that  of Mr. Stefanov.

Flipping to Supine Position

[25] Mr. Stefanov testified  that  he  then  moved  to  DH's  head  and  asked: "How  do  you  feel so far?" DH responded "so far so good".  At this  point,  DH then turned  onto  her  back for  the  second half of the massage. To do so, Mr. Stefanov elevated the sheet  and  asked  DH  to slide  her body  down and turn over, face up.  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that,  during  this  rotation,  with  the  sheet  lifted up, he was unable  to see DH's face. Every  part of her body was    covered.

[26] DH similarly  stated  that  her  body was  fully  draped  with  both arms  underneath  the  covers. She acknowledged that this part  of  the  massage  "seemed  totally  like  experiences [she'd]  had before,  there  was nothing  unusual  about it".

[27]  Mr.  Stefanov  testified   that  he  then  placed  small  damp  towel  with  lemongrass  essential  oil  over DH's  face, eyes  and forehead.  A pillow   was placed  under  DH's knees.

[28] DH did  not  recall whether  a small towel was over her eyes and  did  not remember  whether  there  was a pillow   under  her knees.

Upper Leg Massage  While in Supine Position

[29] Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that,  after  DH  was  positioned, he  worked  the  lower  part  of  the  body. He undraped the  blanket and sheet of one leg from ankle  to knee  and knee to hip  area, and     he tucked  both the  sheet  and blanket  under  the hip.

[30] DH testified that Mr. Stefanov massaged  each  leg  individually  and  that  "he  removed  the  draping from the leg that he was working  on and  tucked  it  in,  in between my legs  like  right  at the very top of my inner  thigh  and  then  like  outside,  on  the  outside,  like  really  high,  high  up  on  my hip . about an inch of my bikini  area  was  exposed".  DH  described  her  bikini  line  to  be  "the place that quite often pubic  hair  grows  that  might  be  exposed  if  you  were  wearing  swimsuit",  and   she   specified   that   the   exposed  portion   included    part   of  the   vulva.    DH   stated  that Mr. Stefanov  massaged  up to the  very top of her inner    thigh.

[31] Mr. Stefanov’s  testimony  was  different.  He  stated  that  his  leg  draping  was  secure,  and  it  was not possible to  uncover  the  inside  of  the  thighs, including  DH's  genital  area.  Mr.  Stefanov also testified that at no time during this portion of the  massage  did  he  massage  DH's  upper  inner thighs. He explained that the draping he used actually covered this  region  of DH's  thighs  that  DH alleged  he  massaged.  Further, at  no  time were  DH's  vulva  and  genitals  visible  to  him.   The draping  did, however,  allow  him  to work the  quads and IT  bands.

Lower Leg Massage While in Supine Position

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[32]  According  to  Mr.  Stefanov,  after  completing  both legs,  he  draped  the  legs  and  moved  to the end of the table by DH's  feet.  He  then  folded  the  blanket and  sheet and  rolled  them to  cover the legs to just above the knees. He then massaged from DH’s ankle to knee several times. After completing this portion of the massage, Mr. Stefanov pulled  the  drape down to  cover  the  legs  and feet.

[33] DH described this  part  of  the  massage  much  differently.  She  testified  that,  while  her  legs  were draped to the knee, Mr. Stefanov picked up  each of her  legs  and  moved  them to the  outer edges of the massage  table,  placing  them  in  a V formation.

[34]   DH  stated  that  once  she  was  in  this  position,  Mr.  Stefanov  massaged  her  legs  from ankle to knee. After repeating  this  motion  couple  of times,  Mr.  Stefanov  continued  this  motion up  as far  as [her]  thighs   go. He didn't  touch [her]  genitals   at that point".

[35]  According  to  DH,  Mr.  Stefanov  then  brought  his  hands  to  the  top  of her  inner  thighs  and his  thumbs  touched  her labia  and his  fingers   touched  her  vulva.

[36] In response to  the  alleged  touching  of  her  labia,  DH  stated  that  she  "was  curious  about  what he was doing so [she] lifted [her] head up ... and  peeped  down".  She  further  stated:  "it  appeared to me that Mr. Stefanov was kind of leaning down in as though he was trying  to  look between my legs under  the  covers".  DH  was  of the  view  that  "Mr.  Stefanov was  crouching down far  enough  while   reaching  to [her]  thighs   in  order to look at [her] genitals".

[37] DH testified that  she  was  uncomfortable  that  somebody had  just touched  her.  When asked how  many  times  she was touched  she said:

So I am -- I don’t -- I couldn’t say for sure, at least once. Like I know it happened once and I just kind  of freaked  out  in my head  like  at that point,  I got really tense  and really -- like I just stiffened up and like  I don’t,  I don’t  know  it  was  like  my  brain  kind  of zapped up and I just  didn’t  want  to believe   what  was happening.

[38]  In  contrast,  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that  he  did  not  massage  DH's  inner  thighs  and  he  did  not move DH's legs. Her  legs  were  in  the  normal  position,  with  approximately  one  fist  between  the legs. At no time,  did  he  pick  up  her  legs  to  increase  the  spacing.  Further,  Mr.  Stefanov  testified that his hands never went  under  the  drape,  nor  did  he  lean  over  and  look  under  the  drape.

Upper Body Massage  While in Supine Position

[39]  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that  the  last  part  of the  massage  involved  the  upper  body,  including the arms, shoulders and forearms. At that time,  he  took  each  of DH's  arms  out  from  under  the sheet and blanket, one at a time, and placed  the  arms  on top of the  blanket.  Mr. Stefanov testified that, after massaging DH's arms and shoulders, he finished by massaging the neck area. Once the massage  was complete,  he removed  the compress  from  DH's  eyes.

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[40] DH testified that  at  the  end  of  the  massage,  Mr.  Stefanov  moved  up  to  the  head  of the  table and massaged her shoulders  and  neck.  When  he  was  doing that,  DH asked him to  work  on her forearms. "I said to him that I had asked  him  to  work  on  [my]  forearms  which  he  hadn't  worked on yet and he, he  did.  He  worked  on  my  forearms  really  briefly  and  then  the  massage was done".

After the Massage

[41] DH testified that after the massage,  she  met  her  friend  in  the  women's  change  room.  DH began  crying  and  told  her  friend  about  the  massage  with  Mr.  Stefanov.   DH  then  spoke  with Ms. Yamashita, the duty manager at  the  Spa.  DH  told  Ms.  Yamashita  that  she  was  not  happy  with the massage. She thought Mr. Stefanov was inappropriate, and  she  was  very  uncomfortable during the massage, even though  she  had  had  lot  of massages  before.  Ms.  Yamashita  testified  that  DH looked  upset.   She was almost  in  tears and I could  only  tell  that  she was very  upset.

[42] On December  13,  2011,  DH  filled  out  the  complaint  form from the  website  of the  College and described the massage with Mr.  Stefanov  (the  "complaint  form").  She  then  emailed  the complaint   form  to Ms. Manchisi,   one of the  managers  of the Spa.

[43] Mr. Stefanov testified that on  December  13,  2011,  he  met  with  Ms.  Manchisi  and  was  asked about the massage with DH. Mr. Stefanov was  told  that DH  had  made  complaint  regarding inappropriate touching and draping. Mr. Stefanov was not provided with a copy of the complaint form at that time.  Mr.  Stefanov  testified  that he  was  asked  to  complete note regarding  the  massage  and did  so on December  15, 2011.

[44] On March 12, 2012, DH met with Robin  Barker,  the  investigator  for  the  College,  and  prepared a written  statement  about the  massage  (the  "written   statement").

[45] On April 3, 2012, Mr. Stefanov prepared  written report  for  the  College  in  response  to  DH’s statement.

[46] On November 23, 2012, a Notice of Hearing was issued by  the  College  setting  out  the allegations against Mr. Stefanov. The  hearing  took  place  on  June  26  and  27,  2013 and  September 19 and  20, 2013.

[47] Each party called an expert to testify. On the following key  points  the  experts  were  in  agreement. The practice  of  draping  allows  the  member  to  cover  the  client  safely  and  give  access to the area to be massaged. A secure drape  prevents  a  part  of the  body from being exposed. A drape might be loose yet secure. A drape can become loose if a client moves, due to  rhythmic techniques and/or moving the client. Should this happen, the member is to re-secure the  drape.  Exposure and/or touching of the buttock, genitals  and/or  the  gluteal  cleft  are  not  permitted. Similarly, it is  not  appropriate  for  the  member  to  place  his  hands  under  the  drape  and  massage  the body.



Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[48] On May 8,  2014,  the  Panel  released  its  Decision  and  Reasons” (“reasons”)finding  that  Mr. Stefanov had contravened a standard of practice of  the  profession,  engaged  in  conduct  that would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional,  and  engaged  in  sexual abuse.

[49] The Panel first considered if any  of  the  standards  of  practice  were  breached  before considering the allegations of sexual abuse. It correctly stated that the burden of proof was on the College to prove its case on a balance of probabilities, based on clear,  convincing  and  cogent evidence.

[50] The outcome of  the  hearing  turned  on  the  Panel’s  assessment  of  credibility.  The  Panel  stated that,  when  assessing  credibility,   some  of the factors  to be considered  included:

1.                 Opportunity  to observe

2.                 Common  sense

3.                 Probability  or improbability  of the  witness’  story

4.                 Whether  their  statements   were consistent

5.                 Whether  there  was anything  confirming  one version  of events  over  another

6.                 Whether  witnesses  were  forthright   in their  evidence

7.                 Appearance  and  demeanour  of the witness

[51] The Panel found  that  the  thrust  of  the  College’s  case  was  that  Mr.  Stefanov  failed to maintain  the  standards  by doing  the following:

1.                 The  [un]draping  of the buttocks

2.                 Exposing  all  of the gluteal  cleft

3.                 The draping of  the  anterior  leg  which  exposed  the  vulva  and  massaging  the inner  thighs   without  permission

4.                 Massaging legs with hands under the sheets  and  thereby  massaging  the  inner thighs

[52] The Panel found Mr. Stefanov  guilty  of allegations  in  1,  2  and  4  as  set  out  above.  They found  that  allegation  3 was not  proven.

[53]  Having  determined  that Mr.  Stefanov  was  guilty  of  allegations  1,  2  and  4,  the   Panel turned  to consider  the allegation  of sexual  abuse  of DH.

[54] Sexual abuse of a patient by  a  member  is  defined  in  subsections  1(3)  and  1(4)  of  the  Health Professions Procedural Code, being Schedule 2 to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 18 as follows:

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)1.  

(3)     In this  Code,

"sexual  abuse" of a patient  by a member  means,

(a)              sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between the  member  and the  patient,

(b)            touching,   of a sexual  nature,  of the  patient  by the  member, or

(c)              behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by the  member  towards the patient.

(4)     For the purposes  of subsection  (3),

"sexual nature" does not include touching, behaviour or  remarks  of  a  clinical nature  appropriate  to the  services provided.

[55] Section 1.1 of the Health Professions Procedural Code further clarifies the purpose  of the sexual  abuse provisions:

The purpose of the provisions  of this  Code  with  respect to  sexual abuse  of patients by members is to encourage the reporting of such abuse, to  provide  funding  for therapy and counselling for patients who  have  been  sexually  abused  by  members and, ultimately,   to eradicate  the  sexual  abuse of patients  by members.

[56]       The  College  alleged  three  areas of inappropriate   touching  as follows :

1.  Simultaneously  massaging  both  buttocks  and  running  digit up   the   gluteal cleft  and  touching  the labia

2.  Touching  the  labia  and  vulva  when massaging  the  anterior legs   under   the sheets

3.  Looking  under  the sheets  at DH’s genitalia

[57] The Panel found that the inappropriate touching described  in  and  had  occurred,  but  rejected the third allegation. It found that there was a pattern  tMr.  Stefanov’s  behavior  that suggested the touching was not accidental. The complete undraping  of  the  buttocks  was inappropriate   and   could   be  viewed   in  “a  sexual  light”.   This   was  reinforced  by  the simultaneous massage of the buttocks and  touching  of  the  labia  and  vulva. Finally,  the  Panel  found  that  there was no clinical  reason for this    touching.

[58]      Turning  to the  penalty,  the Panel ordered the following  sanctions:

1.                                         Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)Mr. Stefanov's certificate of registration  be  suspended  for period  of  twelve  months, and that such suspension be remitted  for  three months  if  Mr.  Stefanov attends counselling  in  accordance  with  the  terms  of the  Penalty Order

2.                                         Mr. Stefanov's certificate be amended to require him to enroll in and complete the College's  ProBE course

3.                                         A public  and recorded reprimand

4.                                         Mr. Stefanov pay costs to the College in the amount of $7,500 and make a further payment  of $2,500 for  security  for funding  of counselling  for   DH


[59]   The  standard  of  review  on  this  appeal  is  reasonableness.  acknowledge  that  the  findings of the Panel are entitled to a high degree of deference, especially when those findings rest on an assessment of credibility. I also recognize that a reviewing court should  not  minutely  dissect  the  reasons  of a tribunal  or retry the case.

[60]      The   question   is  whether  the   reasons  of  the   tribunal  support  the   decision  after  a  fair examination. In Law Society of New Brunswick v. Ryan, 2003 SCC 20, [2003] 1 S.C.R. 247, the Supreme  Court of Canada put the  question  as follows,   where  McLachlin  C.J.C. said, at para. 47:

The content of a standard  of  review  is  essentially  the  question  that  court  must ask when reviewing an administrative decision. The  standard  of  reasonableness basically involves asking "After a somewhat probing examination, can the  reasons  given,   when taken as a whole,  support  the decision?"

[61]   In Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 190, Bastarache and LeBel   JJ. expressed  the standard  in  this  way,  at para. 47:

court  conducting  review  for reasonableness  inquires  into the  qualities   that make a decision reasonable,  referring  both  to  the  process  of  articulating  the reasons and to outcomes. In  judicial  review,  reasonableness  is  concerned  mostly  with the existence of justification, transparency and intelligibility within the decision-making process. But it is also concerned with  whether  the  decision  falls  within a range of possible, acceptable  outcomes  which  are  defensible  in  respect  of the  facts  and law.


Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[62]  To  support  finding  of  professional  misconduct,   “the   balance   of  probabilities   requires that proof be ‘clear and convincing and based upon cogent evidence’” (F.H. v. McDougall, 2008  SCC 53, [2008] 3 S.C.R. 41, at para. 31).  This  is  particularly  important  in  this  case  because  sexual abuse is one of the most significant and serious findings that the Panel can make  against  a member. Given the consequences of such a finding, the  Panel  is  required  to  act  with  care  and caution in assessing and weighing all the evidence. In doing so, the Panel  must  ensure  that  the  evidence is of such a quality and quantity to justify a finding of sexual abuse (Re  Bernstein  and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (1977), 15 O.R. (2d) 447 (Div. Ct.), at pp. 486- 488).

[63] This  was  classic  credibility  case.  Mr.  Stefanov  consistently  denied DH’s  allegations  against him. The allegations either happened or they did not. The Panel had  to  be persuaded  on a balance of probabilities that  the  wrongdoing  alleged  by  DH  actually  occurred.  The  credibility  of  DH was critical  to the  outcome.

[64] The Panel found that DH was “very credible”  and  Mr.  Stefanov  was  not.  They  found  her version of the events “to be more probable”. The pathway to this conclusion was incomplete, not transparent  and  unintelligible.  Further, there was  minimal  consideration of   Mr.   Stefanov’s evidence  and an unreasonable  explanation  given  as to why his  evidence  was    rejected.

[65]  Credibility  assessments have  two   constituent   elements:   honesty   and   reliability   (see Karkanis v. College of Physicians and Surgeons, 2014 ONSC 7018, 329 O.A.C. 114 (Div. Ct.),  at para. 52).  The  Panel may  have  found  DH  to  be honest,  but  they failed  to  do a proper analysis as to whether her evidence  was  reliable.  As  result,  their  credibility  assessment  of  DH  was flawed  and incomplete.   I turn  now to the  analysis   that  supports  this conclusion.

[66]     The  Panel divided  their  review  of the evidence  into  four    areas:

1.                                         The  undraping  of the  buttocks  and exposure  of the  gluteal cleft

2.                                         The  anterior  leg drape, exposure  of the vulva   and massage  of inner   thighs

3.                                         Massage  of inner  thighs   with  hands  under  the sheets

4.                                         The  inappropriate   touching  (sexual abuse)

[67]  The  reasons  reveal  the  flawed  nature  of  the  Panel’s  determination  that  DH  was  credible  and Mr. Stefanov was not. First, the Panel  gave  sparse  consideration  to  DH’s  inability  to  recall details and no consideration to the inconsistencies in her evidence. Second, having rejected two  significant  allegations  (that  Mr.  Stefanov  exposed  DH’s  bikini  and  vulva  areas   and   that   he looked under  the  sheets  at  her  genitalia),  the  Panel did  not  consider the  relevance  of this  rejection in their credibility assessment. Lastly, the Panel  gave  minimal  consideration  to  Mr.  Stefanov’s evidence  and unfairly  characterized   and scrutinized   his  evidence  that  they did   acknowledge.


1.                  Undraping of Buttocks

[68] Dealing first  with  the  exposure  of  the  buttocks,  the  Panel  found  that  DH  was  “very credible”  and gave  the  following  reasons:

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[S]he was very clear that her buttocks were exposed as she  could  tell when a sheet  was on her  skin  and  when  it  was not.  DH’s thought  process that ‘she  shouldn’t  be a prude as this might be the norm for someone trained in Russia’ gave further credibility.… DH had regular  history  of having  massage  therapy,  there  had  been no incidents in the past and she had never met Mr.  Stefanov  until  that  day.  The  hearing was stressful  and  emotional  for  DH  and,  with  her  educational  background in psychology, the Panel  could  not  conceive  what motive DH  would  have  for  making  this  up. [Emphasis   added.]

[69] As noted above, the Panel found DH to be very clear about her buttocks  being exposed. However,  DH was not always  clear  about whether  her buttocks  were  exposed.

[70]  On  December  13,  2011,  DH  filled  out  the  complaint  form  from  the  College’s  website.   She then emailed the complaint form to Ms. Manchisi, one of the managers of the Spa.  In  this  complaint form, DH states that Mr. Stefanov “left my right  buttock  exposed  while  massaging  my  upper back”. When DH testified in chief  before  the  Panelshe said  that  her  buttocks  were  covered during the massage of the upper back. When confronted with this inconsistency during cross-examination, DH acknowledged the discrepancy in her evidence. She “did not know” if her description  in  the complaint  form  was correct or  not.

[71]  The  reasons  of  the  Panel  do  not  reveal  any  consideration of  this inconsistency   and inability to recall which version was correct. As noted above, the Panel  described  DH  as  very  credible because she was “very clear that her  buttocks  were  exposed  as  she  could  tell  when  sheet was on her skin and when it was not. However, this inconsistency reveals  that  DH was not always very clear about the exposure of her buttocks. The Panel did not consider this  in  their  credibility  assessment  of DH.

[72] In her written  statement  to  the  College,  DH described  as follows  the  massage  of her lower  legs  while   she  was still prone:

I believe he then began to massage my lower legs  and  my feet while  I was prone. When he worked  on my  lower  legs,  Mr. Stefanov covered  my upper back. I think  he covered my entire buttocks  but  couldn’t  say  for  sure.  By  this pointmy feeling  was that  more  than  half  the time   allotted  for my  massage  had gone  by.

[73] DH was cross-examined about this evidence. She agreed  that,  when she  was talking to  the College investigator, she could not recall if  her  buttocks  were  draped  or  not.  The  following exchange  occurred:

Q. I suggest to you, Ms. H that at certain points in the massage you were unable to perceive  where  the  draping was?

A. You can suggest  that  all  you like.

Q. And you wouldn’t   agree  with  that?

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)A. I think that when I was laying down I had a pretty good sense of approximately where  I was covered  and where  I wasn’t, yes.

Q. But  in  this  statement  here you are unsure?

A.  Once again,  I do notat the  time  that I wrote  this  statement,  I could  not  recall   if  I was draped or not.

[74] The  reasons  of  the  Panel  do  not  reveal  any  consideration  of  the  above  evidence.  Since  DH is on her stomach and cannot see her  buttocks,  her  ability  to  know  whether  or  not  her  buttocks were draped depended on what she could  feel.  The  Panel did  not address in the  reasons how DH could be certain about exposure of her buttocks  at certain points  and  yet unsure  at other times  during  the  massage.

[75] The Panel acknowledged that Mr. Stefanov consistently denied exposing DH’s  buttocks. However, his evidence was rejected because the  Panel  found  DH’s  evidence  “more  probable”.  Given this, the Panel found there was no reason to doubt DH. They explained that, since they had “accepted that DH’s buttocks were fully undraped, this means that all of  the  gluteal  cleft  was exposed”. This led the Panel to conclude that the  standard  of  practice  of  the  profession  in  this regard  was not met.

[76] The Panel did not explain why DH’s evidence was  more  probable  than  Mr.  Stefanov’s  evidence. This is an important step in assessing  credibility  because  Mr.  Stefanov  was  consistent about  draping  the  buttocks  and DH was not.

[77]  Mr.  Stefanov  argued that  DH’s  “memory  lacked  clarity”.  The   Panel  acknowledged  that  DH could not recall the set-up of the massage room. They found that this did not reflect on DH’s credibility because “most clients  do  not  take  the  time  to  study  the  setup  of  a  treatment  room”.  The Panel does not explain how they would  know  what  most  clients  take  the  time  to  consider  during  a massage.  There  was no evidence  on this   point.

[78] The reasons do not reflect any  consideration  of  the  inability  of  DH  to  recall  many  other details of the massage. The  transcript  shows  that  when  DH  entered  the  massage  room she  could not recall if music was playing  or  if  the  lights  were  dimmed.  She  could  not  recall if she  discussed her health history  with  Mr.  Stefanov.  DH  could  not  recall  if  Mr.  Stefanov  applied  light  pressure  to her back at the start. She could  not  recall any pressure  on her  back before the undraping.  When DH  placed  her  face  down on the  table  into  the  horseshoe  cradle,  she  could  not recall if there  was a cloth or fabric covering on the  cradle.  DH  could  not recall if there  as a duvet used  to  cover her. DH could not recall if Mr. Stefanov placed  pillow  beneath  her  lower  legs  and ankle  area at the start of the massage. When she turned over onto her back, DH  could  not  recall if  Mr.  Stefanov  placed  a pillow   under  her  knees or a cold compress  over her eyes.


2.                  Anterior Leg Drape

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[79] This part of the massage occurred after DH  turned  over  and  was  lying  on her  back.  DH testified  that the  anterior leg   drape   exposed  her   bikini   area   and   part   of  the   vulva   while  Mr. Stefanov  massaged  her inner   thighs.

[80] The Panel  did  not  accept  DH’s  evidence. They  found  that  the  “bulk  of  the  sheet  and blanket in between the thighs would not allow a lot  of  access  to  the  inner  thigh  or  expose  the  vulva”. The leg drape was  correct  and  “the  area  massaged was  not  the  upper  inner  thigh  but  lower  down the abductors”.

[81] The  Panel  states  that  DH  might  have  believed  this  area  was  exposed”  when  it  was  not. This is based on the Panel’s belief that her “skin  was  sensitive  where  she  shaved  (bikini area and upper thigh) and due to that she  might  have  believed  this  area  was  exposed”.  In trying  to  explain their  rejection  of DH’s evidence,  the  Panel speculated  about the  sensitivity  of DH’s  skin.

[82] DH testified that she  could  tell  the  bikini  area  was  exposed  because  she  had  shaved  the  bikini area the morning of the massage  and  the  skin  in  the  shaved  area  felt  cooler  when exposed. The Panel found that the bikini area  was  properly  draped.  Therefore,  it  was  not  exposed.  There was no evidence  to support  the  Panel’s  belief  that  the  skin  was sensitive   when covered.

[83]  The  Panel did  not  consider  whether  their  rejection  of DH’s  evidence  in  this  area impacted  the reliability of the rest of  her  evidence  that  the  Panel  chose  to  accept.  This  is  an  essential element   of a credibility  assessment.

3.                  Massage  of inner thighs under the sheets

[84]  The  reasons  about  this  part  of the  massage  are  brief.  Mr.  Stefanov  moved  to  the  end  of the table. The drape over the legs was rolled up to  the  knees and  Mr. Stefanov states he massaged from the ankles to knees.  The  Panel notes  that  the  parties  “agreed  that  both legs  were  draped to just  above the knees”.

[85] The Panel accepted  DH’s  evidence  that  Mr.  Stefanov  massaged  under  the  sheets  to  her  inner  thighs.   Mr. Stefanov  denied  that  this  happened.  The  following  brief  reasons  were given:

The Panel looked at the  credibility  of both witnesses  and  found  DH  more  credible for reasons listed above. Also, the Panel found Mr. Stefanov’s testimony to  be extremely detailed for an event that took place  several years  ago  and  his  testimony was more along the lines of what he  does  in  massage  than  what  happened  with DH. Exhibit 17, a letter to the College showed  this.  The  letter  was  written  four  months after the massage, yet it was  full  of  very  specific  information  like  what massage techniques were  used  and  when  and  in  what  order,  even  what  questions  he asked of DH and her answers. The Panel finds this degree of detail to be questionable and for those reasons,  finds DH  to  be  more credible. [Emphasis added.]

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[86] When the Panel refers to the “reasons listed above” for  finding  DH more  credible,  there  is nothing more in the reasons than the flawed consideration of the evidence that  have  already described. Furthermore, the starting point for the Panel was that DH was “very credible”, in great measure because, due to her education  in  psychology,  the  Panel  could  not  conceive  of  what motive she would  have  for  making  up  her  allegations.  This  conclusory  reasoning  informed  their entire  analysis.

[87] To say that Mr. Stefanov’s detailed testimony is reason for  preferring  DH’evidence  is illogical.  Mr.  Stefanov’s account  of  the  events  was  no  more  detailed  than  DH’s  testimony  and  yet  she was found  credible  and he was  not.

[88] The Panel had  evidence  from  Mr.  Stefanov  that was  relevant  to  why  person  in  his  position would recall the events in detail.  He  was  told  the  day  after  the  massage  that  DH  had  made  serious  allegations  against  him.  There  is  no  indication  in  the  reasons  that  this  evidence,  as  set out below,  was considered  by the  Panel.

[89] On December 13, 2011, the day after the massage, Mr. Stefanov had  meeting  with  his manager.  The  manager  told  him  that “[DH]  madcomplaint   against   you  for   inappropriate touch and inappropriate draping. I was surprised, I was in shock”. The same day, Mr.  Stefanov prepared a handwritten, one  and  half  page  memorandum  for his  manager,  setting  out  his  recollection of the massage. At this point he did  not  have  a  copy  of  DH’s  complaint  form.  On  April 3, 2012, Mr. Stefanov prepared  four  and  half  page  handwritten  report  for  the  College.  This more detailed account  was  prepared  after  Mr.  Stefanov  was  given  DH’s  written  statement  that  she signed  on March 12, 2012.

[90] The  Panel’s  treatment  of  DH  and  Mr.  Stefanov  is  this  area  was  very  uneven.  The  stress and emotion that DH experienced was  reason  why  the  Panel  “could  not  conceive  what  motive DH   would   have   for   making   this   up”.    Similarly,    the   seriousness   of   the    allegations    that  Mr. Stefanov learned about the day after the massage caused him to be  surprised  and  left  him  in shock. However, in the reasons,  the  Panel  ignored  Mr.  Stefanov’s  evidence  about  his  reaction  to the complaint.

[91] DH prepared very  brief  complaint  form  on  December  13,  2011  that  consisted  of two  short handwritten paragraphs about the massage. It was less detailed than Mr.  Stefanov’s  first  statement. Three months later,  DH  prepared  more  detailed  statement.  The  Panel found  the  level of detail in Mr. Stefanov’s second  statement to  be  questionable, but  did  not  question  DH’s detailed  second statement.

[92] The Panel did not address why, in regard to the previous  allegation,  it  had  rejected  DH’s evidence that Mr. Stefanov had massaged her inner thighs but, in regard to this allegation, it unquestionably  accepted  DH’s  allegation  that Mr.  Stefanov  had  massaged  her  inner thighs.   In both circumstances, DH had not observed what was happening and  was  relying  on her  sense  of touch. The Panel  found  that  DH  had  misunderstood  where  Mr.  Stefanov  was  massaging  her  legs in the earlier circumstance, but that she had accurately interpreted her sense of touch in the later circumstance.  No meaningful  analysis  was  offered  as  to  why  the  Panel was  so  accepting of DH’s  evidence based on her feelings  of  being  touched  in  one  circumstance,  but  was  not  convinced  of her ability  in  this  regard  shortly  before.

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[93]   Finally,  the  Panel  rejected  Mr.  Stefanov’s  evidence  because  “his  was  more  along  the  lines of what he does in a massage than what happened with DH. The transcript  of Mr.  Stefanov’s  evidence reveals that he provided considerable evidence  about  the  events  on  the  day  in  question and, when he spoke  about  what he  typically  does,  the  question often  elicited  this type  of response.

4.                  Inappropriate touching (sexual abuse)

[94]   Three   areas   of   inappropriate   touching   were   considered    and    the    Panel  found    that Mr. Stefanov committed a “pattern of sexual abuse”. They reached this  very  serious  conclusion  without ever considering the reliability of DH’s evidence. The flawed  reasoning  set  out  above continued, resulting in a serious finding  that  was  not  grounded  in  evidence  that  was  “sufficiently  clear, convincing and cogentto satisfy the balance of  probabilities  test  (F.H.  v.  McDougallat  para. 46).

(a)                                 Massaging the exposed buttocks and touching the gluteal cleft and labia

[95]     The  Panel  determined  that  DH’s  buttocks  were  exposed  and  simultaneously  massaged  in  circular  motion.  They  also accepted  that“with  this technique   there   was  greatelikelihood that Mr.  Stefanov’s thumbs  ran   up   her   gluteal   cleft   and   in   doing   so   touched   her   labia”.  Mr. Stefanov  denied  all  of this.

[96]   The  Panel  found  Mr.  Stefanov’s  evidence  “not  to  be  convincing”.  Once  again,  they  relied on the detailed nature of his written statement  as  a  reason to  reject his  evidence.  In his  statement, Mr. Stefanov records that he asked DH during the  massage:  [d]o  you  feel  secure?”  The  Panel found that this was not a typical question that  massage  therapists  are  trained  to  ask  clients.  The  Panel therefore  questioned  “the  likelihood   that Mr. Stefanov  would  have  even asked  this”.

[97]  It  is   readily  apparent  from  Mr.  Stefanov’s   transcript  and   statementsthat  English  is  not   his  first  language  and  that  he  struggles  when  expressing  himself  in  written  and  oral  English.   This  is an obvious possible explanation  for  using  the  word  “secure”  that  the  Panel never  considered  in the reasons. Further, the Panel did not give Mr.  Stefanov  an opportunity  to  explain  his  use  of the word secure  during  the hearing.

[98]  Otherwise, the  Panel  simply found  that DH  was  “forthright” in  her  evidence   and   her version of events was “clear and concise  and  more  probable”,  therefore,  Mr.  Stefanov’s  evidence was not convincing. The Panel gave no consideration  to  DH’s  earlier  statement that  she had “thought”  Mr.  Stefanov  had  “grazed”  her  labia   with  his   thumb   because,  considering  what  she felt,  it  “made  sense”  to her that  it  must  have  been his thumb.

(b)                                 Touching the labia and vulva when massaging the anterior legs under sheets

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)[99]  The  Panel  had  already  found  that  Mr.  Stefanov  massaged   DH  under  the   sheets.  They  went on to accept that he touched her labia and vulva.  Their  reasoning  is  conclusory  as  follows: Given that the Panel  has  found  that  Mr.  Stefanov  has  already  breached  the  standard  of practice by massaging under the sheets, the Panel concludes his behavior continuedThe  Panel  does  not explain  why  the  behavior  would  continue.  Instead,  since   they  find   that  Mr.  Stefanov  massaged her under the sheets, they conclude that he must have touched DH’s labia and vulva. This is  impermissible  reasoning.

[100] The Panel found that DH was very upset after her massage and  that  this  supported  her  testimony  as follows:

Counsel for Mr.  Stefanov  suggested  that these  behaviours  didn’t  occur  as  DH didn’t protest or stop the massage. The Panel  accepts  that  person  may  freeze when put  into difficult  circumstances  especially   when   there   is   touching   of sensitive areas. The  Panel  finds that  DH  tried  to  redirect  Mr.  Stefanov  to  other  less sensitive areas of her body and this was  her  way  of coping.  The  Panel also  heard testimony that DH was very upset after her massage and this supported her testimony. Given  this,  the  Panel  found  that Mr.  Stefanov  engaged  in  the misconduct  alleged.

[101] The Panel failed to appreciate that after-the-fact conduct can  only  provide  circumstantial evidence  that  an  event  occurred,  where there are  no  other  explanations  for  the  conduct.   This point  is  made in  R. v. Lindsay, [2005] O.J. No. 2870 (S.C.) where  Fuerst J. said,  at para. 159:

It  is  well-established,  however, that  evidence  of  a  complainant's  emotional  state after an  alleged  offence  may   constitute   circumstantial   evidence   confirming   that  the offence occurred, depending on the circumstances of the case, including the temporal  nexus  to the  alleged  offence  and  the   existence   of   alternative explanations   for  the emotional state.

[102] In this case, DH’s emotional state could  have  been explained  by her  honestbut  mistaken belief that her vulva had been exposed  through  inappropriate  draping  at  which  time  Mr.  Stefanov had massaged her inner thighs two allegations  which  the  Panel  rejected.  DH’s  emotional  state  could also have been explained by her mistaken perception  that  Mr.  Stefanov  had  tried  to  look  under the sheets at her genitalia –  another  allegation  which  the  Panel  rejected.  In  that DH’s emotional state could be explained by  mistaken  perceptions  on  DH’s  part,  that  same  emotional  state cannot  be used, as the Panel  did, as proof that  other  allegations  actually   happened.

(c)                                  Looking under the sheets at DH’s genitalia

[103] DH  testified  that,  while  she was  lying  on  her  back  with  her  legs  spread  in  Vformation,  she  lifted  her  head  because  she  was  curious  about  what  Mr.  Stefanov  was  doing. She saw him “crouching down far enough while reaching to [her] thighs  in  order  tlook  at  [her]  genitals”.

[104]   The  Panel did  not accept this  evidence  and gave  the following    reasons:

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)Regarding the issue of looking under the sheets  at  DH’s  genitalia,  the  Panel  concluded that DH  might  have  thought  Mr.  Stefanov  was  looking  under   the sheets, given his position at the bottom of the table and leaning forward, but the likelihood that he  could  see  under  the  sheets  is  unlikely.  For  these  reasons,  the Panel  finds  that  Mr. Stefanov  did  not engage  in  this  particular   misconduct alleged.

[105]  The  allegations  that Mr.  Stefanov  looked  under the   sheets  at  DH’s  genitalia,   exposed DH's  bikini  area  and  vulva, and  massaged DH's  inner thigh,  were   specifically  set  out  in  the Notice of Hearing. These were serious allegations before the Panel that were not  proven  by  the College. The Panel viewed DH as  mistaken  in  what  she thought  happened.  If  DH  could  be mistaken about these serious allegations, could  she  be  mistaken  about  the  rest  of the  allegations? The Panel never considered  this  possibility  in  the  reasons.  The  Panel’finding  that  Mr.  Stefanov  did not commit these particular allegations ought  to  have  been  a  consideration  in  the  overall reliability  of the evidence  of DH and  Mr. Stefanov,  and it  was  not.


[106] In summary, the Panel reached its decision through  faulty  reasoning.  This  was  pure  credibility case. Given the numerous flaws in the Panels approach to assessing credibility,  the  conclusion does not meet the justification, transparency  and  intelligibility  standard.  It  necessarily follows   that  the  decision  was not reasonable.

[107]   In these  circumstances,   it  is not  necessary  to consider  the appeal of the Penalty  Order.

[108] The appeal is allowed, and the decisions  of  the  Discipline  Committee  are  set  aside.  The  matter is remitted back to the  Discipline Committee  for new  hearing  before  differently constituted   panel  of the  Discipline Committee.

[109]   The  respondent  shall  pay  to  Mr.  Stefanov  his  costs  of the  appeal fixed  in  the  amount    of
$12,500 inclusive of fees, disbursements and HST. This amount  was  agreed  upon  between  the parties.

C. Horkins J.

Aitken J.

Swinton  J.

Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)Released: February 10, 2016

CITATION:  Stefanov  v. College  of Massage  Therapists   of Ontario,  2016 ONSC 848


Text Box: 2016 ONSC 848 (CanLII)DATE: 20160210



Aitken,  Swinton,  C. Horkins  JJ.






C. Horkins J.

Released: February  10, 2016