A long-time Toronto psychiatrist, known for administering gay conversion therapy, has been found guilty of sexually abusing two of his male patients.
Dr. Melvyn Iscove, 72, has long believed that homosexuality is a disorder that can “be overcome,” and was described by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario discipline committee as having a “special interest in the treatment of patients with problems related to homosexuality.”
But the committee also found that the doctor had engaged in oral and anal sex and mutual masturbation with some of his male clients during therapy sessions. The doctor told his patients that engaging in sexual acts was part of their treatment, and would allow them to stop fantasizing about them, according to the report.
Dr. Iscove was found to have engaged in these acts in the 1990s and early 2000s and his license was suspended pending a penalty hearing where it will likely be taken away indefinitely. The doctor denies the allegations and will likely appeal the decision, said his lawyer Alfred Kwinter.
The doctor also faces a pending a hearing on “improper conduct in a public men’s washroom,” according to the committee.
Two patients, now in their 40s, testified that Iscove abused them while they were in their 20s. One patient who saw the doctor to treat his depression and anxiety associated with “fears he was gay,” was asked by the doctor to describe sexual fantasies he had about the two of them. The doctor then told the patient “You may touch me if you like,” and proceeded to remove his pants. Sexual encounters of this nature occurred at least 10 times during therapy sessions.
Another patient began seeing Iscove when he was 18 for depression and anxiety, but said he identified as heterosexual at the time. The patient said he was asked multiple times about any dreams he had related to “homosexual feelings,” and that any heterosexual fantasies he had were described by the doctor as “being a way of denying his homosexuality,” according to the committee. “Patient B firmly believed that Dr. Iscove was attempting to ‘cure’ his homosexuality.” The patient and Iscove began engaging in sexual acts in 2007.
According to the committee, Iscov also violated rules by attempting to sell a juicer to a patient as well as other personal items.
Homosexuality is not a disease or mental disorder and was removed from the World Health Organization’s international classification of diseases in the early 1990s. Many U.S. state houses have pending legislation that would ban gay conversion therapy. Ontario, where Dr. Iscove practiced, banned the controversial therapy in 2015.