Oak Ridge Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre & St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital Lawsuit

Between 1966 and 1983, numerous people incarcerated at two maximum security hospitals in Ontario were subjected to unspeakable psychological experiments that amounted to torture.

The experimental ‘treatments’ were developed and overseen by two psychiatrists, Dr. Elliott T. Barker and Dr. Gary J. Maier, and were carried out on patients who were living at one of two mental health hospitals at the time: the Penetanguishene Mental Health Hospital’s Oak Ridge facility and the St. Thomas Psychiatric Centre.

The list of alleged abuses is long and troubling, and includes handcuffing naked residents to each other, confining groups of patients under inhumane conditions for extended periods, administering hallucinogenic drugs against the patient’s will multiple times, denying access to food and other basic human necessities, as well as other forms of physical and mental abuse such as solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, and humiliation. Inmates were also engaged in prescribing and administering medical treatment to each other.

Abusive Practices at Oak Ridge and St. Thomas

Dr. Elliott T. Barker and Dr. Gary J. Maier were each responsible at different times for running programs at the Penetanguishene Mental Health Hospital. We have recently learned that the “patient treating patient” modality that had been used at Oak Ridge was also implemented at St. Thomas by former Oak Ridge patients. The former Oak Ridge patients were tasked with implementing the same Social Therapy and Defence Disruptive Therapy programs, under the supervision of Dr. Maier and other treatment providers.

Legal Remedies May Be Available

Howie, Sacks & Henry is currently representing a client who was a former patient at both the Oak Ridge and St. Thomas facilities in his lawsuit against Dr. Elliott T. Barker and Dr. Gary J. Maier and the Province of Ontario.

Another group of patients who were incarcerated at the Oak Ridge facility has recently won a separate lawsuit against Dr. Barker and Dr. Maier and the Province of Ontario. In that case, the two psychiatrists and the government were declared to have violated their fiduciary duties to the patients, and were held legally and financially responsible for the harm caused to the victims.

It is not too late to seek justice for the other victims of Dr. Barker’s and Dr. Maier’s degrading and harmful practices.

We Want to Help

If you or someone you know were involuntarily held or incarcerated at either the Penetanguishene Mental Health Hospital’s Oak Ridge facility or the St. Thomas Psychiatric Centre between the years 1966 and 1983, and have experienced pain and suffering as a result of the mistreatment you received there, we may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.

HSH lawyers can explain your rights and help you determine whether you might benefit from participating in a lawsuit against the doctors and the government of Ontario.

Tell Us What Happened

Call us today at 1-877-771-7006 for a free consultation.

Complete our online form and we’ll get back to you within one business day.

News Coverage

Psychiatric Treatment or Torture – The Oak Ridge Experiment – The Fifth Estate, March 2021

Former Oak Ridge psychiatric patients sue province, doctors over treatment – Toronto Star, April 2019

Doctors tortured patients at Ontario mental-health centre, judge rules – The Globe and Mail, June 2017

Court rules that Ontario mental-health program amounted to assault – The Globe and Mail, June 2020

Psychiatrists, Ontario government liable for horrific patient abuse at mental health facility – Global News, July 2020

Other Resources

The Forensic Mental Health System in Ontario – An Information Guide

Remembering Oak Ridge – Digital Archive and Exhibit

Remembering Oak Ridge – The Oak Ridge Program

Asylum Projects – Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre

Asylum Projects – St. Thomas Psychiatric Centre

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