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Psych patients claim they were tortured

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TORONTO — Treatment of a group of psychiatric patients detained at an Ontario facility decades ago amounted to torture that resembled the experimentation Nazis performed on Jews, the opening of a civil trial heard yesterday.

More than two dozen inmates of what was the maximum security Oak Ridge facility in Penetanguishene, Ont., are suing the province and two doctors for $25 million in various damages.

Among other things, they allege that between 1965 and 1983, they were made to take mind-altering drugs, forcibly restrained or isolated, and confined nude and handcuffed to other men in the “capsule”—a tiny windowless, soundproof room that was always lit.

They claim the treatment breached their rights and left them with severe and lasting psychological damage.said.

In his opening statement, lawyer Joel Rochon told Superior Court Justice Ed Morgan that the boys and young men sent to Oak Ridge needed care, but the psychiatrists in charge of the special therapy unit—Elliott Barker and Gary Maier—failed to deliver.

Instead, he alleged, they violated their patients' basic human rights in defiance of international protocols.

The evidence, Rochon said, is uncontested that there was no established scientific foundation for the “reckless human experimentation” visited upon the hapless patients.

The government and doctors deny wrongdoing.

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