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Guilty After Proven Innocent
May 10, 2010 permalink
After her son Joshua died in January 1996, Sherry Sherret-Robinson was convicted of infanticide on the mistaken testimony of pathologist Dr Charles Smith. Her other son was seized for his protection by children's aid and placed for adoption. Later when the province became suspicious of Dr Smith, Joshua was disinterred and given a second autopsy, clearing the mother. Last December the Ontario courts vacated her conviction. But there remains an insurmountable obstacle to broadening contact with her adopted son — her name remains on the child abuse registry. It is beyond the power of the courts to get her cleared in the eyes of children's aid.
Compensation means little to Sherret-Robinson
Woman falsely accused of killing child still fighting to be removed from registry
For Sherry Sherret-Robinson it's nothing more than a word and a promise from Ontario's premier that she and a handful of others will soon be compensated for the personal hell their lives became carries little meaning.
The Trenton woman, who was labelled a baby killer in the 1990s, said she can't imagine what the government could do for her to erase the years of pain she went through due to disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith.
Sherret-Robinson was convicted in 1999 of her four-month-old son's death three years previous. That conviction hinged on the testimony of Smith and though she pleaded not guilty to infanticide, her lawyer and the Crown worked out an agreement of facts that she had smothered the child and she was found guilty, spending one year behind bars.
Years of legal wrangling and investigations into Smith's work on Sherret's case and a number of others eventually led to a damning report by Justice Stephen Goudge in 2008.
The report contained 169 recommendations to prevent a repeat of the litany of life-ruining blunders made by Smith. It was also instrumental in Sherret-Robinson being exonerated last December.
And though that exoneration allowed Sherret-Robinson to leave some of the pain behind, she said a promise by Premier Dalton McGuinty that compensation for victims of Smith's shoddy work will be coming soon isn't overly comforting.
"Technically, I'm not supposed to say anything about it," she said adding she has few details on any type of compensation package the province may be constructing. "My name's been cleared and that's the main thing I always said I wanted. What can they do, really, to compensate?"
While waiting for news on compensation, Sherret-Robinson is still battling other issues related to her son's death. Due to the initial charges filed against, her she and her then-partner were placed on the Child Abuse Registry, a list which still bears her name despite the exoneration.
Months of being bounced from provincial ministry to local organizations to government offices has left Sherret-Robinson again frustrated as she wants her name erased from the registry. It should be a simple process, she said, but nothing has been for her since 1996.
"It's just frustrating. It's because of faulty testimony by Dr. Charles Smith that we were put on that registry," she said. "It clearly said in the Court of Appeal if they knew then what they know now the charges would never have been laid."
The compensation package the province first began discussing nearly two years ago is the least of her worries, Sherret-Robinson said.
"They've made my life a complete living hell and because I'm still on that list they can just come back into my life whenever they want and I've done nothing."
Source: Belleville Intelligencer