Allegations made against University of Toronto’s psychiatry professor Peter Collins’ online posts resulted in the university asking him to be more mindful of his social media content. According to Collins, the intended context of the posts was misconstrued.
“As with all personnel matters the university does not discuss the particulars of individual cases. We are aware of the situation and we have dealt with this matter through the appropriate channels,” stated U of T’s vice-provost academic programs, Siobhan Nelson, in an email to The Medium.
Brought to the attention of The Medium by Danny Tuff, victim of sexual abuse, a series of Facebook posts were made by Collins detailing references to suicide, molestation, and sedating individuals. However, in an interview with The Medium, Collins stated that he has often used the posts referenced in classes he teaches. One post featured Winnie the Pooh leading Piglet into the woods with no pants was used to demonstrate that majority of abductions are committed by someone the victim knows, according to Collins.
“Some of those things [Tuff] is complaining about I will show in my PowerPoint presentations to demonstrate a point in my lectures,” Collins explained.
A post alleged by Tuff to have mocked a suicidal individual was a photo of Collins bringing a pizza to a man about to jump off a bridge and Collins was called by the police to talk the man to safety successfully. Another post featured an image of a nurse holding a syringe with the caption “You can’t sedate stupid.” Collins defended the post saying that “Stupid is not a psychiatric diagnosis or a medical condition.” The professor stated that he has been told by the chair of psychiatry to be more mindful of his online posts and acknowledged he’d be careful about the posts he will be making in the future.
“As far as I was concerned, my Facebook page was not publicly accessible, but lesson learned,” he stated.
Tuff claimed his main concern with the posts was that if any patients of Collins or people that he’s helped have seen the posts, they may lose their ability to trust others.
Collins works as an assistant professor at U of T and as a forensic consultant for police cases and with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Collins and Tuff met back in 2013 when the RCMP called Collins to consult on a police case in Newfoundland, where Tuff claimed to have valuable information and witnessed evidence, but Collins and the RCMP concluded this to be inconclusive and that Tuff’s testimony was not substantial.
The interaction resulted in Tuff allging that Collins unfairly assessed him and both Collins and the RCMP discredited him.
Tuff claimed his interaction with Collins was unprofessional and proceeded to file a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland.
The college of Newfoundland found Collins not responsible for the complaints filed. According to a report by the college of Ontario, which met with Collins in 2015, the college “cautioned, in person, regarding his conduct during the interview with Mr. Tuff, including his lack of sensitivity to Mr. Tuff’s distress, his confrontational approach, and his combining of roles, and his self-disclosure during the interview.”
Collins has never received disciplinary action from the college, U of T, or any of his employers regarding the nature of these complaints.
The psychiatry professor has since deleted his Facebook account and the aforementioned posts.