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February 9, 2008 permalink
The Kingston Whig Standard today suggests that the real victims of pathologist Dr Charles Smith are the children separated from their parents. They will grow up believing their parents are murderers. The paper suggests reviewing child protection cases founded on Dr Smith's evidence, seeking to repatriate children wrongfully removed.
In this matter, Dr Smith is only the tip of the iceberg. Children's aid has a large stock of experts they rely on to produce "evidence" of unfit parents. Some are local, putting up a pretense of independence while really serving as CAS employees or directors. Loyalty of these experts is assured by the steady stream of revenue from the cases in which they serve.
A more elite group of experts serve at institutions such as the Hospital for Sick Children (there are more than just Dr Smith). Their position is best summarized by the words of Dr Smith himself:
In the very beginning when I went to court in the -- on the few occasions in the 1980s, I -- I honestly believed it was my role to support the Crown attorney. I was there to make a case look good.
That's being very blunt but that was the way I felt and I know when I talked with some of my other colleagues especially those who were junior, we -- we shared the same -- the same kind of an attitude.
There was no impartiality, no independence. His attitude has been described as "noble cause corruption", the belief that the worthy cause of protecting children from parents justified cutting corners. In plain English, the ends justify the means. CAS calls on this group of elite experts in cases in which litigation is likely.
Truly righting the wrongs would require a review of every case in which one of these experts has provided evidence. Paying compensation to the aggrieved families as suggested by the Whig Standard might bankrupt the Ontario treasury.
'They are themselves victims'; All Children's Aid Society files linked to Smith should be reviewed: Queen's expert
Every Children's Aid Society file that involved an opinion from discredited pathologist Charles Smith should be reviewed, a Queen's family law expert says.
Consideration must be given to reuniting families from which a child might have been removed because of Smith's faulty work, says Prof. Nicholas Bala.
Bala and Prof. Nico Trocme, an expert on child abuse at McGill University, prepared a research paper for the inquiry reviewing Smith's errors in child-death investigations.
In a number of cases under review at the inquiry, children were apprehended by child protection authorities because Smith had concluded wrongly that a parent killed a sibling.
"They are themselves victims in that ... they were probably traumatized," Bala said in an interview. "They think, 'Well my mother killed my brother, oops, my mother didn't kill my brother, and why am I not living with my mother? Why am I living with my adoptive parents?' "
The academics were not able to determine whether any children apprehended are still in the care of Children's Aid Societies.
In some cases, children were adopted after their removal.
"It's not going to be in their best interest to be removed from that situation," Bala said. In all cases, decisions must be made about what is in the best interests of the children, he said.
It may mean that some children are given the opportunity for renewed contact with biological parents, he said.
Louise Reynolds, the Kingston woman accused of murdering her seven-year-old daughter because of Smith's flawed opinion, gave up another child for adoption while she was behind bars awaiting trial. Bala said he doesn't think the review would be a significant undertaking because it may not involve a large number of children.
His research found three child protection trials in which Smith gave evidence about the death of a sibling, including a 1996 case in Kingston.
In that instance,the judge noted Smith's "impressive and extensive credentials." The judge ordered that two children be placed in the care of their grandparents.
Bala and Trocme's paper also recommends compensation be paid to families who faced legal costs in child protection proceedings that were based on Smith's mistakes.
"I think it's a legitimate recompense to people who suffered because of systemic incompetence," Bala said.
Bala will appear this month at a panel discussion that is part of the inquiry's public hearing process.
Source: Kingston Whig Standard