It is deeply troubling to see the National Assembly of Canada continue to promote Hossain B. Danesh. He is provided with official Baha’i venues, promoted through official channels and presented as a leading figure to the community in the very field from which he was expelled because of sexual misconduct towards his patients.
To those unfamiliar with the history, Hossain Danesh was a psychiatrist practicing in Canada as well as a long time member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada from the 1980′s to early 1990′s. He was Secretary General of the NSA for many of those years.
Multiple patients brought charges of sexual misconduct against Hossain Banadaki Danesh. The result of the investigation and procedure was that in 1994 the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons along with Hossain Danesh and the victims came to an out of court agreement. This agreement resulted in Danesh being stripped of his membership in that organization as well as losing his legal rights to practice as a psychiatrist and the forfeiting of any future application for re-entry into same. As well, Danesh agreed to pay $10,000 towards the costs of therapy for the three former patients. Danesh did not admit to any of the charges as part of the out of court settlement, which is normal for these sorts of things.
Throughout the process Danesh was allowed to maintain his membership in the NSA and he only resigned his membership because he had been gifted a new cushy job as head of the newly established Baha’i university, Landegg Academy, in Switzerland. Danesh was shipped off across the ocean, away from the scandal and safely nestled into this new job. Unfortunately the gig didn’t last long as Danesh’s management and leadership sank Landegg into a sea of debt.
Now that Hossein Danesh is back in Canada, the ‘old boy’ network, of which he was a ranking member, has continued to promote him in the very field in which he disgraced himself. In the past few years he has been repeatedly promoted by the institutions for seminars such as “Healthy Marriage and Family Life” and “Shaping our Destiny: An Open Forum for Youth and Young Adults”. The latest will be April 15th at the Toronto Baha’i Center:
Reflections on the Baha’i Concept of Suffering
The talk will address suffering as often encountered in marriages and families these days and is suitable for both Baha’is and any interested friends. There will be time for questions and answers that permit exploring the many dimensions and experiences that frequently come up in relation to this topic. We are looking into making arrangements for simultaneous translation into Persian.
For those who may not know him, Dr. Danesh is an author, international lecturer and consultant, with more than thirty five years of academic and clinical experience as a psychiatrist and peace educator.
If someone is going to give a seminar on weight loss, you would balk if they waddled onto the stage, wheezing from the exertion of having to cart their massively obese form around. It is as ludicrous to have a man who was disgraced and thrown out of his profession for sexual misconduct to give a seminar on relationships.
Why is Danesh given the star treatment? why are seminars arranged for him? why are these community events promoted heavily by the NSA in Baha’i communities through official Baha’i channels? why is the truth about his past hidden? why is he referred to as a “psychiatrist” when he does not have the legal right to use that title?
To be clear this issue is not a personal one with Hossain Danesh. Rather it is about the nature of the community that we wish to develop and the values which we want to uphold and present to the world at large. It is wrong for the NSA of Canada to promote Danesh to a position of trust within the community for topics like family, relationships, and marriage simply because he was the quintessential insider. By doing so they are communicating that they are more aligned with personal ‘network’ connections and less so with the animating spirit and values of the Baha’i Faith. They are demonstrating that they value “Danesh’s” prestige more than they value the community itself.