Disgraced pathologist stripped of medical licence
Published Tuesday, February 1, 2011 1:59PM EST
Disgraced pathologist Charles Smith was stripped of his medical licence after pleading "no contest" to charges of disgraceful conduct at a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.
Smith, whose misguided court testimony has sent several innocent people to jail, admitted to unprofessional and incompetent acts during a hearing by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
He did not appear in court, making the admission through his lawyer.
"Dr. Smith will be pleading no contest," said his lawyer, Jane Langford. "The statement (of facts) will be filed on consent."
The disciplinary panel chose to revoke Smith's licence on Tuesday and ordered him to appear in person for a reprimand.
Smith has not practised medicine since August 2008, when his registration expired.
Once considered the dean of pediatric forensic pathology in Canada, Smith's expert evidence on baby and child deaths has led to the prosecution of more than a dozen people over the years.
Five of those cases have since been reopened and had the charges dropped. Another half-dozen appeals are pending.
Smith's career began to unravel in 2005, when Ontario's chief coroner ordered a review of 44 autopsies Smith had conducted. The review determined that Smith had made errors in 20 child autopsies, 13 of them resulting in criminal charges.
Justice Stephen Goudge issued a damning 1,000-page report into Smith's work in 2008. Smith told a public inquiry at that time that his errors were not intentional.
The case of William Mullins-Johnson is among the most high-profile convictions to be overturned based on Smith's faulty testimony.
Mullins-Johnson was exonerated after spending 12 years in jail for the rape and murder of his four-year-old niece. Smith apologized to Mullins-Johnson and the Ontario government later paid him $4.25 million in compensation.
"I'm still humiliated by the fact that I will never see justice done," Mullins-Johnson wrote in his victim impact statement read during the hearing Tuesday.
"He was allowed to continue his reign of terror even after complaints were registered."
Carolyn Silver, speaking for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, said Smith failed in "multiple cases" to gather "relevant information."
"Dr. Smith expressed opinions ... that were either contrary to, or not supported by, the evidence," Silver told the hearing Tuesday.
An agreed statement of facts read to the hearing said that Smith blamed others for his mistakes, exaggerated his experience and offered opinions outside his expertise.
His opinions were described as "overly dogmatic" and "speculative," and the evidence he provided was considered "misleading."
With files from The Canadian Press