Mao-Practice, Assault with a Needle

(THUNDER BAY, ON) – Appearing in courtroom 302 on Thursday May 17th, 2018 to plead guilty to two assault with a weapon charge that stems from incidents at ABA Dental Clinic is Dr. James Mao. Please don’t forget to share this article.


Mao directs employee to leave the examination room and go with him to the break room


he told her that because she did not seem to understand why suctioning the anaesthetic was important, she would have to taste it herself

he directed her to sit in the chair and open her mouth, she did it and closed her eyes. He had a needle loaded with lidocaine solution, his intention was to put some of the solution on her tongue. As he approached her mouth with the needle, she opened her eyes and realized he was serious. she became alarmed. She believed he was going to inject her with the lidocaine, she told him to stop and immediately stood up. Dr Mao informed her that her employment was terminated. She left the clinic that instant.

The victim left the clinic and spoke with her parents, who called the police. She attended the hospital as she was unsure if the needle had touched her, or whether the needle was clean. She was not touched with the needle, and the needle and solution were clean and sterile. however, the victim was not aware if the needle was the same one used on the patient, as Dr. Mao had left her sight for a moment. Since she did not know if the needle was sterile or if it touched her, she went through prophylactic HIV treatment. Drugs used for this treatment are very unpleasant and cause nausea and more.


Given the facts presented here, it is acknowledged that

A) the needle was a weapon as defined in the criminal code

B) by act or gesture, Dr. Mao threatened to use the needle to apply force to the victim, thereby committing the offence of assault with a weapon

C) The victim did not consent to such application of force and any lack of resistance was due to Dr Mao’s exercise of authority over her as her employee


Once Thunder Bay Police Service received the victims’ statement, they investigated previous employees to see if anyone else had been similarly assaulted by Dr. Mao. Police made contact with a former employee, who was also assaulted.

The second victim, who was hired as a receptionist at the memorial avenue ABA Dental location, (we will refer to her as Victim2) was required to work outside of her role of receptionist, doing such tasks as construction and renovation work at the Red River location, that was being prepared for opening. She also had to take on the role of Dental Assistant to Dr Mao.

Victim2 assisted Dr. Mao while he performed a procedure on a patient, which required a local anesthetic to be used. Victim2 was directed to suck up excess anesthetic but did not do this to Dr. Mao’s satisfaction. Once the procedure was complete, Dr. Mao directed Victim2 to accompany him in the break room, where he explained to her that the anesthetic was bitter, and that she did not suction it properly, and that she would have to taste it to understand why proper suctioning was important.


He produced the loaded syringe, and told her to open her mouth, she refused. Dr. Mao informed her that she would be fired if she did not comply. She complied. He deposited a small amount of local anesthetic into her mouth by squirting it, the needle did not make contact with Victim2. The victim was not aware that the needle was sterile.

Given these facts, it is acknowledged that

A) The needle was a weapon as defined by the criminal code

B)he used it to apply force to Victim2 when he used it to apply anesthetic to her tongue, thereby committing the offence of assault with a weapon


C)Victim2 did not consent to this application of force but complied due to Dr. Mao’s exercise of authority as her employer in the relationship.

Dr. Mao’s legal counsel admits to the agreed statement of facts.

Joint Submission

Hargadon indicates that he would like to give context to the proposed disposition, beginning with Dr. Mao reading his apology letter which has been circulated during the pre-trial conference.

Dr. Mao reads the letter:


I would like to express my sincerest apology to Victim1 and Victim2 for any pain, suffering or emotional distress I caused them through my methods of employee training. With the help of legal and other professional counselling, I now recognize that my former methods of employee training were inappropriate and amounted to a criminal act. I no longer utilize these methods of employee training and have gained a better understanding of both the sensitivity I should show to my employees and the criminal code.

I became a dentist to help and serve the public and to relieve pain and suffering. The fact that I have caused Victim1 and Victim2 to suffer strikes me against my core beliefs and is a source of continuing shame for me. These incidents and the court process have been traumatic for Victim1 and Victim2 and their families. It has been stressful for me and my family as well.

One thing positive about this process is that it has helped me become a better and more conscientious professional, and I thank them both for that. I hope they can see past this incident and wish them the best health and success in their lives.

Sincerely, James Mao


Hargadon continues to press that this is a joint submission from the defence and the Crown. He indicates how under section 730 of the criminal code, that Dr. Mao could be extended the benefit of a conditional discharge.

Section 730 of the criminal code regarding conditional discharges reads as follows:

730 (1) Where an accused, other than an organization, pleads guilty to or is found guilty of an offence, other than an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life, the court before which the accused appears may, if it considers it to be in the best interests of the accused and not contrary to the public interest, instead of convicting the accused, by order direct that the accused be discharged absolutely or on the conditions prescribed in a probation order made under subsection 731(2).

You can read section 730 of the criminal code in its entirety here

Hargadon suggests that Dr. Mao be placed on a 12-month probation order, with the following conditions:

  • Statutory conditions, such as “keep the peace and be of good behaviour”
  • Report to his probation officer as required
  • Take any programs such as counselling, as directed by his probation officer
  • 100 hours of community service
  • No contact/communication with 2 victims
  • DNA to be submitted
  • 10 Years of firearms prohibition
  • Victim surcharge $200 x2

Hargadon begins to speak of Dr. Mao’s background. Dr. Mao was born in Saigon, Vietnam. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1996.

Dr. Mao’s parents were required to leave Vietnam after the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975, because they were ethnic Chinese, and once the new communist government took over, they were the subject of persecution in the form of ethnic cleansing. Dr. Mao’s father also served in the Republic of Vietnam’s army, which also pushed them out of the new communist government.

His family paid to be smuggled out of Vietnam by what you would call “human traffickers” by today’s standards. They went on a boat and headed out to sea, where they were beset by pirates on at least two occasions, and eventually landed in Malaysia. Afterwards, they wound up in Indonesia, where the Indonesian navy essentially dragged their boat out to sea and left them to die. As a result, he had to do such things as drink his own urine and watch others succumb to exposure.

Dr. Mao was sponsored to come to Canada as a refugee by Mennonites near Winnipeg. Dr. Mao spent a year living with them in rural Manitoba before he moved to Winnipeg.

Dr. Mao’s father was a dentist but had no recognizable certification to work in Canada. Both parents worked in a fibreglass plant, doing manual labour. Dr. Mao grew up in poverty.

As a young student, Dr. Mao excelled at school. When Dr. Mao reached high school, he was an honour student. Dr. Mao’s parents did not have time to tutor him or push him to excel at school.

Dr. Mao was the subject of bullying throughout school, due to racial prejudice.

Hargadon urges that considering the upbringing Dr. Mao had, and the result of his success, is remarkable. It is a requirement for a discharge that the guilty person was previously of good character.

Dr. Mao financed his own education and got his Dentistry education from the University of Toronto in 1996, which was the best school at the time in Canada. He was licensed shortly after by his college.


2002 Dr. Mao started his own Dentist clinic in Thunder Bay.

2003 He met his spouse Dr. Lau, and they worked together in his clinic.

2004 Moved their clinic to a larger

2006 Dr. Mao married his business partner.

Hargadon describes Dr. Mao’s offences as employee “discipline”, further Hargadon indicates that Dr. Mao’s objective when hiring young receptionists and having them perform other duties such as construction renovations, and dental assistant roles, was to give them opportunities that he himself lacked in his country of origin. Hargadon explains that this was Dr. Mao’s way of offering employee’s a “ladder of opportunity”.

Defence counsel explains that Dr. Mao would get disappointed and frustrated when employees would not perform their duties to his standards. Dr. Mao’s methods of employee discipline had crossed the line between acceptable and criminal, Hargadon explains.

Lidocaine is bitter to the taste, Hargadon states and is unpleasant on the tongue. Patients frequently complained, says Hargadon when the anesthetic is not suctioned up properly. There have been attempts by employees to suction up the lidocaine properly that have failed, which caused Dr. Mao to feel a stronger lesson was needed, which ended up being inappropriate and criminal.

Hargadon submits a letter from a local Clinical Psychologist who Dr. Mao has been getting therapy sessions designed to assist him with understanding why this course of conduct was inappropriate. Dr. Mao started these sessions in November 2017 and continued up until April 6th, 2018. His sessions are still ongoing, and they are approximately 90 minutes every 10 days to two weeks. The letter indicates that Dr. Mao has been candid and forthcoming in his sessions. The sessions have been working on workplace stressors, workplace behaviours, as well as interpersonal skills.


In April 2018, Dr. Mao took a “workplace violence training” program, Hargadon submits, which was designed to educate him on legislative requirements for his position, and how to more appropriately interact with employees. Hargadon submits Dr. Mao’s certificate from this program.

Hargadon indicates that in anticipation of being ordered to do community service hours, Dr. Mao has been reaching out to organizations to donate his time to provide free dentistry to impoverished individuals.

Hargadon states that aggravating factors, in this case, is the effect it’s had on the victims. One of the victims is quite terrified and had to go through medical procedures. He further states that the second victim continued employment with Dr. Mao for several months afterwards, but she certainly found it unpleasant and it almost put her off to any career in dentistry.

Hargadon explains how some collateral consequences will also result from these charges, as his “professional governing body” has initiated disciplinary actions against him.

Thunder Bay Courthouse – Inside Edition contacted the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) today. The RCDSO was unaware of the criminal convictions from the dental practice of Dr. James Mao. Information from the courtroom coverage done by The REAL Concerned Citizens of Thunder Bay has been forwarded to the RCDSO who will decide if disciplinary action should take place.


Hargadon indicates that there is a civil suit filed against Dr. Mao from one of the victims.

The Crown stands up and addresses the court, to fine tune the proposed conditions. She says that 100 community hours, to be at the satisfaction of the probation officer, should have the additional clause “as directed by the probation officer”. Further, she fine-tunes the “no contact/communication” condition to allow contact through civil counsel, for the purpose of legal proceedings.

The Crown clarifies that one of the victims did not show up in court today, even tho she is well aware of the proceedings. The victim did not choose to prepare a “victim impact statement” as she is trying to move forward from this fear-inducing incident, she found it quite upsetting to contemplate these proceedings and what has happened to her, even tho it has been 2-3 years after the incident.

Furthermore, the Crown states that the victim that did not show up in court today wishes to never see Dr. Mao ever again and that having that victim appear in court today, would not have been in her best interest.

The Crown also highlights that no consent was given whatsoever for Dr. Mao to deposit lidocaine into these victims mouths and that Dr. Mao was visibly and audibly angry during these incidents. She mentions how every employee has the right to feel safe and be safe, which was not the case here.

The Crown explains that after reviewing case law, and the circumstances, that this is a joint submission.

His Honour begins to address the court and indicates that Judges should not reject joint submissions unless it is contrary to the public interest, or bring the administration of justice into dispute. His honour furthermore explains section 730 of the criminal code that explains the law around conditional discharges, which we touched on earlier in this article.

His Honour is satisfied that this case satisfies the terms around a conditional sentence and that it is not contrary to the public interest, or bring the administration of justice into dispute.

His Honour accepts the conditional discharge, with 1 year of probation and the conditions that were jointly submitted by the Crown and defence counsel. He reads them out to Dr. Mao.

  • Statutory conditions, such as “keep the peace and be of good behaviour”
  • Report to his probation officer as required
  • Take any programs such as counselling, as directed by his probation officer
  • 100 hours of community service, as directed by his probation officer and at a place as directed by his probation officer
  • No contact/communication with 2 victims, except through legal counsel for the purposes of legal proceedings
  • Sign any releases for information by his probation officer
  • DNA to be submitted to the DNA database
  • 10 Years of firearms prohibition
  • Victim surcharge $200 x2

His honour asks Dr. Mao if he understands and agrees to these conditions, Dr. Mao responds “Yes, your honour”.

Dr. Mao pleads guilty to 2 counts of Assault with a Weapon and had the two other charges of Administer a Noxious Substance dropped.


Image of Dr. Mao From ABA Dental Website