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Trial for 81-year-old Halifax dentist delayed due to medical issues

Halifax dentist Errol Gaum is shown at Halifax provincial court on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC - image credit)
Halifax dentist Errol Gaum is shown at Halifax provincial court on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC - image credit)

The trial for an 81-year-old Halifax pediatric dentist accused of physically assaulting child patients several decades ago has been pushed back until next fall, after a judge agreed to adjourn it due to medical issues suffered by the accused.

Dr. Errol Gaum's health problems were not described in Halifax provincial court Wednesday, but defence lawyer Stan MacDonald said they are outlined in a letter from Gaum's doctor.

He said Crown prosecutor Stephen Anstey has spoken with the doctor, who described the dentist reporting recent episodes of panic and anxiety.

"Certainly over the past few days, my contact with Dr. Gaum has been over the phone, and I must say that his presentation has been very different from how it has been in the past," MacDonald told the court. "He does not seem to be oriented particularly, at times."

The 10-day trial had been scheduled to begin Feb. 20. It is now scheduled for October.

Gaum has pleaded not guilty to eight charges that he physically assaulted six complainants who were allegedly his patients when they were children in the 1970s and 1980s. He is accused of slapping them, and in one case hitting the face of a girl against a sink.

Anstey agreed to the adjournment. He also said there is a new complaint against Gaum from someone living out of province who came forward after reading about a recent court hearing involving the dentist.

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