“He was my support system, my parent, my confidant, my compass and my guide. He was my cheerleader,” she said as she stood before the man she had put all her trust in for over two decades. A man who sexually violated her and failed her in her time of need.
“Stanley Dobrowolski, I trusted you,” the woman –one of 22 women whose names are protected under a publication ban– told her former psychiatrist in court on Thursday while reading her victim impact statement. “The emotional damage and harm to my soul goes beyond the nine pages of submissions”
The stories of those 22 women, who were sexually violated by the London psychiatrist, were read into the record on Thursday by Assistant Crown Attorney Laurie Tuttle. They are accounts that 67-year-old Dr. Stanley Dobrowolski admitted were true. In all of the cases, the 21 women and one girl said Dobrowolski performed breast, vaginal or full body exams on them during appointments at his Old North home office.
The cases were detailed using the women’s initials only, because they were so nervous and anxious that they didn’t even want their full names read in court.
Dobrowolski plead guilty to 16 counts of sexual assault, one count of voyeurism and one count of breaching a court order on Thursday.
During the incidents, dating back as far as the mid-90s, many of the women were meeting with Dobrowolski to discuss issues related to depression, anxiety or traumatic life events. The court heard Dobrowolski often performed unnecessary exams and took pictures under the guise of checking for cancer of the breast and skin, or in one case to give advice about a breast reduction surgery.
After his arrest in Nov. 2012, London police investigators were able to recover from his computer almost 10,000 images of female patients in various states of undress or naked while he examined them, or touched them. Many of the women did not know they were being photographed, and say they never would have agreed to the examination if they knew they were being recorded.
A handful of the women told police the physical exams did not seem out of the ordinary, but in some of those cases Dobrowolski was under a 2005 divisional court order not to perform any kind of physical examination on his patients.
In one case, police found 2,140 photos of a woman who was 17 years old at the time some of them were taken. The girl was never officially his patient, because Dobrowolski told her it wold look bad on her record later on. He performed vaginal and breast exams on the girl, and told her he had to check for cancer because of her family history. Police found photos of the girl posing naked on a leather chair in his office, along with close-ups of her breasts and vagina. It was the only case that the Crown detailed evidence of secret video being taken. The girl had no idea she was being taped during the exams.
It’s only one of 22 eerily similar stories from female patients. Stories that detail Dobrowolski’s reassuring, but at time manipulative presence. Stories of multiple breaches of trust and gross misconduct on the part of a psychiatrist who spent 32 years practicing in London before his arrest.
On Thursday afternoon, four women read victim impact statements in court, while another 13 chose to submit statements to the judge in writing. Three women detailed how they were assaulted by Dr. Dobrowolski, and another told the court how he stole her well-deserved childhood by wrecking havoc on her family while treating her mother.
“My therapist. That kind, sensitive, caring man with whom I had shared my most intimate feelings,” one woman told the court, while visibly shaking from head to toe. “My friend… my rock… was nothing more than a sexual predator.”
“The incidents [of sexual assault] replay in my mind like a really bad dream,” another confided.
The woman who brought nine pages of notes asked the judge if she could take a spot on the witness stand so she could face her former psychiatrist. “I had hoped to face this man,” she told Justice Gregory Pockele. She cried for only a moment, before detailing years of support from “Dr. D” that she later realized wasn’t helping her at all. He once examined her breasts. “He so kindly offered to teach me how to self exam,” she said with just a slight edge of sarcasm. She said when she found out about the charges against Dobrowolski she had been trying to contact him in a time of crisis. She said she felts abandoned, and stunned at what he was capable of.
When she read all nine pages she walked down from the witness stand, only gathering the courage to look him in the eye as she walked by him.
“I needed you,” she told him between clenched teeth.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly.
“I know you are,” she replied while looking away.
Dr. Stanley Dobrowolski was sentenced to four years in a federal penitentiary after his lawyer and the Crown made a joint submission. He will comply with a DNA order, he is banned from owning a gun for ten years, he will be listed on the sexual offender registry for the rest of his life and he is banned from communicating with any of the woman he sexually assaulted.
Before he was taken into custody he spoke with his back to his victims and former patients.
“Very briefly I just wish to say that I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I wish to apologize to my former patients, my family, and everyone who has been harmed by my misconduct… I’m very very very sorry…”
Then the surely soon-to-be-stripped-of-his-medical-license doctor walked out of the room through the prisoner’s dock with the eyes of almost a dozen victims on his back.