A Windsor family doctor has pleaded not guilty to six counts of sexual assault.

The trial for Bassam El-Tatari, 45, began in Superior Court on Monday.

The physician is facing accusations of inappropriately touching six of his former patients, all women, whose identities are protected by a court-ordered publication ban.

Windsor police launched an investigation on Jan. 8, 2015. When officers went to an alleged victim’s home, she told police she attended her physician’s office earlier in the day and was allegedly touched inappropriately.

The doctor went to police headquarters on Jan. 11 and he was arrested. He was subsequently released on a promise to appear and he had his first court appearance in February, 2015.

The woman who first complained to police took the stand on Monday and testified in the four years she was a patient, it was normal for her doctor to give her a hug at the end of an appointment.

The alleged victim, now 37, said she could feel his left hand on her breast during a hug at the end of her first visit to Dr. El-Tatari on January 8, 2015.

Defence lawyer Bob DiPietro argued the assault did not occur, and got the woman to admit that she suffers from depression and used marijuana to balance her moods.

A second alleged victim testified late in the day Monday and recalled how the doctor allegedly pinched her nipples during a breast exam in 2013. She also testified that she found it odd that the doctor wanted to hug her after every visit, and she alleged the doctor kissed her on the mouth in her last visit.

The second victim explained she did not come forward with the allegations until 2015 after she heard on the news that El-Tatari was charged.  She told Crown attorney George Spartinos she thought she was the only patient who was assaulted by him.

Three weeks have been set aside for the trial.

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons issued restrictions against Dr. El-Tatari in June 2017. He can only see patients when another licensed health care professional is present.

He also faces a disciplinary hearing, but no date has been set.