A Saanich doctor has admitted in court that he tried to secretly record staff using the washroom at his practice.

Dr. Mark David Thiessen pleaded guilty to one count of secretly observing or recording nudity in a private place, court documents show.

The offence was committed Aug. 18, 2015.

In an agreed statement of facts read in court Thursday, prosecutors said Thiessen had set up a camera in a bathroom at his Saanich clinic unbeknownst to staff members.

It says that after one female staff member used the washroom, another who was about to use it found the cell phone in the corner of the stall, near the toilet.

The phone was positioned in a way to record bathroom users’ buttocks and genitals, according to the statement.

The staff member recognized the phone as belonging to Thiessen, took it and gave it to him. Thiessen’s response was to tell the employee he was sorry.

Court also heard Thiessen left the clinic and attempted to take his own life at a motel later that day.

Police were able to get to him and he was hospitalized for around 10 days.

Investigators later found no videos or photos of anyone using the bathroom on the cell phone, but an approximately 11-minute long video shows Thiessen placing the phone near the toilet, according to the statement of facts.

Reaction to the guilty plea came quickly on social media, with at least one patient commenting that they were reading the news as they waited in Thiessen’s office.

“Holy crap, I’m at his office right now. The receptionist said that he wasn’t in because of an emergency,” she wrote.

In a statement, the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons said it was aware of the charge against Thiessen and called it “a deeply troubling situation.”

It confirmed Thiessen had never been disciplined before, but he has previously been required to have a chaperone present for all physical examinations, sensitive examinations and any examinations requiring disrobing by female patients.

The CPSBC said his admission of guilt will be brought before an Inquiry Committee for further direction.

Crown is asking for a suspended sentence including 12 months of probation and counselling.

Thiessen was still actively practicing at a clinic in View Royal as of Thursday.

He made an appearance in a provincial courtroom in Victoria Thursday and will make his next court appearance on Jan. 10. 

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Scott Cunningham.