The parent of a child who was left traumatized after an experience with a Nova Scotia dentist is relieved that charges have been brought against the practitioner.
On Wednesday, Halifax Regional Police announced eight charges had been laid against a dentist accused of assaulting patients following a 15-month-long investigation. The alleged incidents happened between 1971 and 1990.
As first reported by Global News, Nova Scotia’s Public Prosecution Service confirmed the man charged is Dr. Errol Gaum, a dentist from Bedford, N.S., whose licence was suspended in 2020 after allegations of misconduct.
While the alleged incidents for which Gaum was charged happened decades ago, the charges bring some measure of relief for Ryan Binder, the parent of one of the dentist’s former patients.
“It’s pretty good that they finally did something,” Binder said in an interview.
“Some people have gone through this for 50 years.… I know for a lot of people, it’s a relief. It’s a good start forward for a lot of people to move on.”
Binder is one of more than 150 people who have launched a proposed class action lawsuit against Gaum, accusing the doctor of using cruel and traumatizing means to subdue his young patients.
In 2020, Binder said his then-six-year-old daughter, Peyton, had a referral to have a tooth removed by Gaum.
He said his mother, who took her to the appointment, said she wasn’t allowed to be in the room with Peyton during the procedure, but reported hearing her screaming.
Binder claimed the dentist Gaum wasn’t letting his daughter breathe because he was holding her nose during the treatment.
He shared her experience on Facebook, where the post received thousands of shares and prompted a number of other people to come forward with similar allegations.
Binder’s allegations have not been proven in court and are separate from the incidents for which Gaum was charged. Binder said Wednesday that the certification motion for the lawsuit will take place in March.
“I’ll be there,” he said.
Dental board investigation ongoing
In November 2020, the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia suspended Gaum’s licence indefinitely.
In a Wednesday afternoon statement, the dental board said its investigation is ongoing.
“Formal investigations can take up to one year, while unusually complex cases, like Dr. Gaum’s, may take significantly longer,” the statement read.
“The Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia takes its role to protect the public in matters related to the delivery of dental care seriously, including its role in managing complaints and disciplinary actions.”
Gaum will be arraigned on April 26 in Halifax provincial court at 10 a.m.
In the meantime, Binder said a weight has been lifted now that Gaum is facing charges — though the feelings are bittersweet.
“I can’t really be happy about it, but more just relief,” he said.
— with files from Graeme Benjamin and Karla Renic