Disciplinary hearing against Beaverton optometrist resumes April 19

The disciplinary hearing against Beaverton optometrist Jon Barnes is set to continue April 19 after he was found guilty of misconduct.

Barnes, who also runs a practice in Stouffville, admitted to a litany of the allegations against him, including sexually abusing three patients who were also his employees, as the hearing commenced in Toronto on March 22.

According to an agreed statement of facts filed in the case, Barnes drew obscene images on his office whiteboard, made sexually explicit remarks in the office and wrote similar comments in patients’ files.

He also admitted to having angry outbursts where he would raise his voice, bang the walls, use profanities and break furniture.

“In short, Dr. Barnes admitted to all of the allegations set out in the Notice of Hearing but did not admit to a couple of the particulars,” said Bonni Ellis, a lawyer retained by the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

The incidents occurred between 2002 and 2016.

After receiving complaints, the College launched an investigation in November of 2016, the results of which were made public the following July.

The agreed statement of facts notes that Barnes tried to use white out to cover the sexual comments on patient files.

Two of the three employees quit their jobs. The third, who remains employed, reportedly told the panel that she not consider herself a victim.

Lawyers for Barnes and the College have recommended that his license should be suspended for four months and he be required to take an ethics course. It’s also been suggested that he pay $43,000 for therapy and counselling for the three employees and $30,000 to the College for the investigation and legal costs.

“Once the hearing is concluded, the panel will deliberate and render its decision regarding the appropriate order (penalty) to impose. They will likely communicate their decision verbally at the next hearing day. However, it may take the panel several weeks to draft and release their decision,” Ellis said.

The College of Optometrists of Ontario is a self-regulatory body responsible for registering and governing optometrists in the province.

“When you visit an optometrist, you have the right to expect safe, quality eye care. The College protects this right by setting the registration requirements that must be met to practice the profession in Ontario and by creating the programs that will ensure that optometrists keep their skills and knowledge up to date,” the organization’s website reads.