The Tarnished Reputation of Dr. Charles Smith

Dr. Charles Smith enjoyed professional prestige as one of Ontario’s leading child pathologists, together with the accoutrements of success, including wealth, fame and power.

We now know that Dr. Smith deserved none of the glory he basked in for so many years in his role as chief pathologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Kids. Instead of bringing scientific rigour to his examinations into the causes of death of hundreds of children, he brought a misplaced zeal to assist crown prosecutors to make the case they wished to pursue, no matter the evidence.

His bias and incompetency led to unwarranted human suffering and shame as his expert opinions were used to convict and imprison innocent men and women in the deaths of their children. In other cases, the parents of injured children were wrongly blamed and cut out of their children’s lives.

Amidst the pain however, huge lessons can be learned. The first is that Canadian pathologists who have no particular training, other than “on the job”, and no certification, must be regulated by their profession.

Secondly, the bulk of Dr. Smith’s horrendous gaffes involved his repeated diagnoses of “shaken baby syndrome”. The aftermath of Dr. Smith’s false findings has contributed to the realization that other cases must be reexamined worldwide. In the United Kingdom, of 300 shaken baby cases, 117 are being reopened for further investigation.

Yesterday Ontario’s medical regulatory body stripped Dr. Smith of his medical license with a scathing denunciation of his “egregious, repulsive, unscientific and speculative” conduct. Dr. Smith, who now lives in Victoria, British Columbia, was ordered to appear at the hearing in Ontario to face his rebuke.

Neither he nor his lawyer showed up: his final act of arrogance and insult.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


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