A Winnipeg man is suing a psychologist at Selkirk Mental Health Centre, alleging she engaged in an intimate relationship with him when he was under her care.

He’s also suing the mental health centre and the provincial government, a statement of claim filed with Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench on May 11 says.

The man, who is referred to in the suit only as John Doe 2023 under a rare court order, was charged with a May 2000 murder.

However, he was found not criminally responsible due to a psychotic break, and was held at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre from August 2001 until he was released on May 1, 2023.

He met his psychologist in February 2019, according to his lawsuit. The man was being treated by the psychologist, who “owed the plaintiff a fiduciary duty to be his psychologist and nothing more,” the statement of claim says.

But in the summer of 2019, the psychologist told the man she was in love with him, and the man reciprocated, the lawsuit claims.

The psychologist and the man began an intimate relationship, the lawsuit alleges, and the psychologist took him outside the centre, including to her apartment.

Intimate acts occurred at multiple locations, including the centre, the man claims.

In the summer of 2022, the psychologist told the man he was going to be released from the centre on his birthday, in November 2022, and said she would no longer be in a relationship with him, the lawsuit alleges.

“He was devastated by this development as he was deeply in love with [the psychologist] and is now in a state of deep confusion and depression,” according to the statement of claim.

Judge orders anonymity

The man alleges the psychologist was unprofessional and unethical for engaging in a relationship with him, and says she should have known the harm that would cause him given her job as a psychologist.

“He was a vulnerable person and [the psychologist] took advantage of him for her own selfish activities,” the statement alleges.

The man also claims Selkirk Mental Health Centre was not vigilant in looking after his safety.

He is seeking unspecified general, punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages from the defendants.

CBC has contacted the psychologist but did not hear back. A spokesperson for Shared Health, the provincial authority that oversees the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, responded to say they do not comment on matters before the court.

The allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has been filed.

Robert Tapper, the lawyer representing the man, told CBC in an email that police were not contacted, but he declined further comment on the civil suit.

The man is only referred to as John Doe 2023 in all publicly available court filings after Justice Vic Toews agreed on May 24 to a request from the man’s lawyer for anonymity.

In order for anonymity to be granted, a plaintiff’s lawyer must show that court openness would pose a serious risk to an important public interest.

They also have to show the order to anonymize is necessary to prevent serious risk to the identified public interest, and the benefits of such an order outweigh the negative effects. 


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