A Toronto psychiatrist has had his license suspended after having sex with male patients he promised to cure of their homosexuality.
A disciplinary committee at Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons found Dr. Melvyn Iscove engaged in sex acts with at least two male patients during so-called therapy sessions.
Iscove, 72, has claimed homosexuality is a “sexual disorder,” but engaged in mutual masturbation and oral sex with at least two clients, and once had anal intercourse with one in his office.
“Neither complainant described any emotional or romantic aspects of the sexual activity with Dr. Iscove,” the five-member panel wrote, “and both said that at some point, they thought that the sexual activity was part of the therapy and an attempt to cure them of homosexuality by engaging in the acts, rather than fantasizing about them.”
The accusations date back to the 1990s and early 2000s, when the men were in their 20s. It is not known if there are other victims.
One of the men, who said he saw Iscove as a father figure, testified that in one session the doctor embraced him and told him “You may touch me if you like,” after which the patient touched Iscove’s erect penis through his pants.
Later encounters progressed to mutual masturbation and oral sex “on between 10 and 20 occasions.”
“Patient B” started seeing Iscove in the late ’80s when he was just 18. He testified he came for treatment for depression and had considered himself heterosexual up to that point. But Iscove insisted that was his way of denying his homosexuality. He repeatedly asked Patient B about any same-sex feelings or fantasies, and the two began engaging in sexual activity around 2007.
“[Patient B] considered beginning a homosexual affair with an unspecified male,” the panel wrote. “After discussing this with Dr. Iscove, who persuaded him that a random partner was undesirable, Dr. Iscove made it known that he, himself, would be available.”
In one session, the patient brought a condom and asked Iscove to penetrate him, which he did.
Iscove denies the allegations and “is seriously considering an appeal,” according to his attorney. Iscove still faces a separate discipline hearing for an allegation of “improper conduct” in a public men’s room.
An overwhelming majority of medical and psychiatric organizations condemn reparative therapy as both ineffective and harmful. This month lawmakers in Washington voted to outlaw the practice on minors.
According to the Williams Institute, nearly 700,000 adults have undergone conversion therapy in the U.S., including 350,000 who received treatment as adolescents.