A Quebec dentist and his partner were fined $1,500 each on Monday after Cayman Island authorities charged them with breaking the territory’s quarantine rules.
Dr. Pascal Terjanian, a controversial dentist who practises in Montreal and Terrebonne, and Christina Gurunian pleaded guilty to the charges during a court appearance via a video link on Monday.
Upon arrival at the airport on Nov. 13, they were fitted with electronic tracker wristbands and escorted to an apartment complex where they were supposed to isolate for 14 days because of the pandemic.
Police were called to the complex after staff notified them that the couple had left the apartment.
Gurunian, 34, failed to wear her mask upon arrival at the complex and on several other occasions when she walked from her apartment to put garbage in the dumpster, a Cayman news outlet reported.
According to the court file, the managers became suspicious of Terjanian and Gurunian after they both requested numerous favours, which prompted them to review the complex’s CCTV footage, said Andrel Harris, a reporter with the Caymen Compass.
According to the court file, which Harris said he consulted, both Terjenian and Gurunian were observed outside of their apartment without their geo-fencing wristbands and were seen swimming in the ocean at the back of the property.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Gurunian disputed many of the allegations. She said the only time she violated quarantine was when she took trash to the dumpster.
The couple decided to plead guilty to all the charges because her aunt died last weekend and she wanted to return home to Quebec to be with her family.
“Our lawyer said to plead guilty to the charges because, otherwise, we would not have been able to leave the country,” she said.
She claims that two officers came to their door on Monday and notified them of the court appearance. She said she never saw any of the CCTV footage that the police claim shows them violating quarantine rules.
“I never did those things,” she said.
Gurunian also denied that she tampered with her monitoring bracelet. She said Terjanian wore his bracelet farther up his arm because he wears a watch on his wrist.
The couple left the Cayman Islands on Tuesday after they had two negative COVID-19 tests. They are not allowed to return to the islands while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
Following the incident, the government will now require travellers to pass through an additional checkpoint at the airport to ensure the tracking bracelet has been fitted correctly, Dr. Tasha Ebanks-Garcia, the director of Travel Cayman, said in a news release.
Terjanian, 52, who was once called a public menace by the Quebec Order of Dentists , has been the subject of many complaints about pricey, shoddy and painful dental work dating back to 1997.
In 2014, he was suspended from practising dentistry for 30 months after a disciplinary committee found him guilty of 38 infractions. The committee said the suspension was warranted “considering the gravity of the infractions and the apparent absence of remorse … and the possibility of recidivism,” the Montreal Gazette reported at the time.
The order has been trying to bar him from practising for years, but Terjanian keeps appealing the decisions against him.
He is scheduled to appear before the disciplinary council next Wednesday. He has been cited for undermining “the dignity of his profession” between December 2008 and March 2009 and for refusing to co-operate with the order’s investigator.
He has another appearance scheduled in January, for “carrying out orthodontic treatments contrary to generally accepted scientific standards in dentistry” back in 1997.
Terjanian has blocked attempts to investigate him by refusing to answer questions or hand over proper documentation, investigator Pierre Lafleur told the Montreal Gazette in 2015.
Court documents show he has given many excuses for not producing original documents, including being on vacation, he was sick and overworked.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette five years ago, Terjanian conceded overcharging and possibly doing an unnecessary root canal.
He did not want to speak with a reporter on Thursday.
All our coronavirus-related news can always be found at montrealgazette.com/tag/coronavirus.
Sign up for our email newsletter dedicated to local COVID-19 coverage at montrealgazette.com/coronavirusnews.
Help support our local journalism by subscribing to the Montreal Gazette here.