Monday, February 29, 2016

Maria Shepherd: (Exoneration 10): Momentous development; After 25 years load is finally lifted; Ontario Court of Appeal strikes her almost quarter century old guilty plea and enters an acquittal; Most importantly, Ontario's highest court makes loud and clear that she never assaulted her 3-year-old step-daughter Kasandra - or in any way caused her death. (As in all of the 20 criminal cases in which it was found that Smith had made serious errors, Maria's guilt existed only in the sorely flawed mind of former pathologist Charles Smith. HL); "The evidence from Smith “was fundamentally flawed,” wrote Howard Leibovich, counsel for the Attorney General of Ontario. New evidence from forensic experts establishes Kasandra may have died of natural causes, and that her death should have been classified as “undetermined.” One expert called Smith’s theory that Shepherd killed Kasandra with a blow to the head so hard it left an impression from her watch “complete nonsense.” Another called it “pseudoscience.” “I hope that the world can now know,” Shepherd wrote in an affidavit to court, “that I did not assault or abuse Kasandra and did not cause her death.” Reporter Wendy Gillis. Toronto Star.


Maria Shepherd to reporters following her acquittal:"I'm not sure what was going on in Mr. Smith's head. There must be something extremely troubling for someone not to do it once or twice. We're taling about a dozen people at least that he has done this to. I forgive Charles Smith because it is going to be less of a weight and my family and I can carry on.  However, I think I there has to be a deeper  look at accountability not only from Smith but from his superiors as well."

"A woman convicted of killing her stepdaughter 25 years ago has had the conviction overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal. “I’m finally acquitted and I’m free — and I can be a mom to my kids without this hanging over my head. I’m extremely grateful,” said an emotional Maria Shepherd outside court Monday, as her husband, four children and supporters stood behind her on the steps of Osgoode Hall..........The conviction was overturned this morning by Justices David Watt, Gladys Pardu and Peter Lauwers. Shepherd was 21, pregnant and facing serious jail time when her lawyer told her she stood little chance of acquittal. Under enormous pressure, Shepherd pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a calculated move made to limit the impact on her children, but which came at the expense of the truth. She did not know that nearly two decades later, an unprecedented review of Smith’s work would reveal the pathologist made egregious errors in 20 child death cases, including Kasandra’s. In 2009, the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed Shepherd, now 46, to appeal her conviction and ask the court for an acquittal. In court documents filed earlier this month, the Attorney General agreed the conviction should be quashed “in the interest of justice.” The evidence from Smith “was fundamentally flawed,” wrote Howard Leibovich, counsel for the Attorney General of Ontario. New evidence from forensic experts establishes Kasandra may have died of natural causes, and that her death should have been classified as “undetermined.” One expert called Smith’s theory that Shepherd killed Kasandra with a blow to the head so hard it left an impression from her watch “complete nonsense.” Another called it “pseudoscience.” “I hope that the world can now know,” Shepherd wrote in an affidavit to court, “that I did not assault or abuse Kasandra and did not cause her death.”
http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2016/02/29/woman-seeks-acquittal-in-stepdaughters-1991-death.html

Maria Shepherd; Exoneration (9): 'Broken Silence': A moving song composed by Maria Shepherd who is expected to be exonerated today by the Ontario Court of Appeal. (From a previous post on this Blog published on Monday June 29, 2009 entitled: 'Broken Silence': A moving song by Maria Shepherd - one of the all too many innocents put through hell after Dr. Charles Smith came into their lives.')


"CLOSE YOUR EYES, JUST TO IMAGINE
THE FEAR THAT WE FACED EACH DAY.
KNOWING ALL ALONG WE WERE NOT GUILTY, BUT NOT KNOWING
IF WE WOULD LIVE TO SEE ANOTHER DAY."

FROM BROKEN SILENCE: BY MARIA SHEPHERD;


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PUBLISHER'S NOTE: "In a previous post I noted that the  list of songs written in the aftermath of the Charles Smith travesty grew longer with the addition of 'Broken Silence'  by Maria Shepherd. The Ontario Court of Appeal had taken the  extraordinary step of granting Maria  leave to appeal almost twenty years after she had pleaded guilty to manslaughter in order to avoid lengthy imprisonment and loss of her family on the testimony of the (then) revered Dr. Charles Randal Smith...  The moving lyrics reflect the two year less a day prison term she had to serve following her guilty plea manslaughter in connection with Kasandra's death. Here are the lyrics of "Broken Silence." (The acronym AIDWYC refers to the 'Association in Defence of the Wrongly  Convicted' which has done a magnificent job of representing parents and caregivers wrongfully convicted as a result of the flawed opinions of the now discredited former  Dr. Charles Randal Smith); In her affidavit for the previous  appeal court hearing, Maria Shepherd says: "I still do not know what caused Kasandra’s death.  I know that her death may have resulted from events before April 9, 1991, including the possibility of epileptic seizures, or an earlier injury to her brain that no one knew about.  Neither of these possibilities had been raised as feasible by Mr. Wiley, or anyone else, before I pled guilty.  I now know that there is no scientific evidence that I injured Kasandra when I pushed her or that my wristwatch left a bruise on the underside of her scalp.  Dr. Smith’s testimony seemed to have a huge effect on the lawyers representing me and was a critical factor in my decision to plead guilty to manslaughter.  I hope that the world can now know that I did not assault or abuse Kasandra and did not cause her death.  I would never have pled guilty if I knew then what I know now about Dr. Smith and Kasandra’s death." In response to Maria Shepherd's prayer, all being well, the world will know at the end of the day  from the ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal that she in no way harmed her beloved step-daughter - and that if it was not for the unfortunate presence of Charles Smith in her life, she was would have been treated compassionately by all as a victim who had suffered an unthinkable loss - as she deserved to be - and not scorned as a perpetrator. I send my best wishes to Maria and my hope that memories of the  broken silence will be replaced by memories of a long overdue exoneration by Ontario's highest court, and the closure that will bring.

Harold Levy. Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

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"In our quietest hours, our silence
In our heads, we still hear them say
You are a danger to society, you are guilty
For this crime, you must be locked away.

(chorus)
We remember the hopelessness we felt,
Wanting so desperately to break free
From the injustice, the persecutors and liars
We had nowhere to run, but little miracles came,
then angels at AIDWYC set us free.

Close your eyes, just to imagine
The fear that we faced each day.
Knowing all along we were not guilty, but not knowing
If we would live to see another day.
 

Our lives were destroyed, taken from us
Without reason or just cause.
Our spirits temporarily broken
Due to systemic flaws.

(chorus)
We remember the hopelessness we felt,
Wanting so desperately to break free
From the injustice, the persecutors and liars
We had nowhere to run, but little miracles came,
then angels at AIDWYC set us free.
 

We paid for crimes we did not commit
Due to carelessness and lack of oversight
We want accountability from all the players
Who knew all long they weren’t right,
 

We rise and unite together now, stronger each day than ever before,
The silence has been broken, wrongful convictions can be no more.
We vow to fight against injustice, one day at a time
We are the crusaders and survivors, we rise and now WE shine

(chorus)
We remember the hopelessness we felt,
Wanting so desperately to break free
From the injustice, the persecutors and liars
We had nowhere to run, but little miracles came,
then angels at AIDWYC set us free.


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See the previous post at:

http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2009/06/broken-silence-moving-song-by-maria.html


See also a previous post  devoted  to two other songs composed in the aftermath of the Charles Smith travesty: 'Tammy: The Wheels of Justice', by Howard Gladstone,  and 'Trusted Voice'  by 'Psycho Key,' can be accessed at:
http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2009/06/dr-charles-smith-hits-musical-charts_16.html

Harold  Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Maria Shepherd: (Exoneration (8): Backgrounder: Ontario Court of Appeal hearing: Monday 29 February; Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) releases a 'backgrounder' on tomorrow's appeal court hearing: "Maria Shepherd's case back before the Court of Appeal 25 years later: It begins with a quote by co-President Russell Silverstein: "Maria Shepherd has suffered immeasurably due to her wrongful conviction and deserves to have her name cleared by the Ontario Court of Appeal today. Sadly, she is not the only person to have suffered at the hands of Dr. Smith.”..."On April 24, 1991, Maria Shepherd, 21 years old at the time, was charged with manslaughter in Kasandra’s death. At the time of her trial in 1992, Maria had three children of her own – Jordan (then 6 years old), Natasha (2) and Chelsea (8 months). Under extreme pressure and consumed by concern that if she continued to claim innocence the Children’s Aid Society would take away her three children from her, Maria pleaded guilty mid-trial to manslaughter. On October 22, 1992, she was sentenced to imprisonment for two years less a day.... Upon her release, she was reunited with Jordan, Natasha, Chelsea and Chanel. In 2007, after a review of Charles Smith’s work, concerns arose that Kasandra was not a homicide victim at all, but had died of natural causes. If so, Maria Shepherd had been convicted of a crime that never happened. Ms. Shepherd was contacted by AIDWYC and told of these developments. She had continued to strongly assert her innocence and she asked AIDWYC to investigate and, if possible, reopen Kasandra’s case. AIDWYC had the case reviewed by Dr. Simon Avis, a forensic pathologist from St. John’s Newfoundland, Dr. David Ramsay, a forensic neuropathologist from London, and Dr. Patrick Barnes, a forensic radiologist from Stanford University, California. All agreed that Dr. Smith’s findings were wrong and he had wrongly attributed Kasandra’s death to homicide. Experts who have looked at the case have come to some damning conclusions about Dr. Smith’s.....They refer to his opinions as “unreliable in the extreme”, “inappropriate and misleading” and “pseudo-scientific. They conclude that the case of Kasandra’s death could not be determined but it could have resulted from a pre-existing epileptic condition, or from a mild head injury resulting from a fall that became fatal. Today, Maria Shepherd is asking the Court of Appeal to consider the new evidence, and set aside her guilty plea and acquit her of the manslaughter of Kasandra. Her request is supported by the Attorney General of Ontario.... Maria’s case is another deplorable example of unsustainable assertions made by a seemingly infallible expert witness."...She said today: “The best thing for all these 25 years is that my family – my husband, Ashley, who was Kasandra’s father, my son Jordan (now 29), my daughter Natasha (26), Chelsea (25) and Chanel (22) – have supported me. They will all be with me at the appeal today. These have been painful years for us all. Kasandra was an important and special member of our family. We loved her. We believe that she is with us today and that she can now finally rest in peace.”


BACKGROUNDER: "Russell Silverstein, co-President of AIDWYC, said today “Maria Shepherd has suffered immeasurably due to her wrongful conviction and deserves to have her name cleared by the Ontario Court of Appeal today.  Sadly, she is not the only person to have suffered at the hands of Dr. Smith.” On the late afternoon of Tuesday, April 9, 1991, Kasandra Shepherd began vomiting in her bedroom, was gasping for air and went into a coma.  She was taken to the Hospital for Sick Kids (H.S.C) and two days later was taken off life support and died. Dr. Charles Smith was then the pediatric pathologist at H.S.C. He conducted Kasandra’s autopsy at the H.S.C. and told the police that Kasandra had died as a result of abuse, involving a blow or blows to the head, leaving a watch-shaped mark under her scalp. On April 24, 1991, Maria Shepherd, 21 years old at the time, was charged with manslaughter in Kasandra’s death. At the time of her trial in 1992, Maria had three children of her own – Jordan (then 6 years old), Natasha (2) and Chelsea (8 months). Under extreme pressure and consumed by concern that if she continued to claim innocence the Children’s Aid Society would take away her three children from her,  Maria pleaded guilty mid-trial to manslaughter.  On October 22, 1992, she was sentenced to imprisonment for two years less a day.  She was pregnant at the time with her fourth child and, on March 31, 1993, five months into her prison sentence, she gave birth to Chanel in prison. She was released on parole on June 21, 1993. Upon her release, she was reunited with Jordan, Natasha, Chelsea and Chanel. In 2007, after a review of Charles Smith’s work, concerns arose that Kasandra was not a homicide victim at all, but had died of natural causes. If so, Maria Shepherd had been convicted of a crime that never happened. Ms. Shepherd was contacted by AIDWYC and told of these developments.  She had continued to strongly assert her innocence and she asked AIDWYC to investigate and, if possible, reopen Kasandra’s case.   AIDWYC had the case reviewed by Dr. Simon Avis, a forensic pathologist from St. John’s Newfoundland, Dr. David Ramsay, a forensic neuropathologist from London, and Dr. Patrick Barnes, a forensic radiologist from Stanford University, California. All agreed that Dr. Smith’s findings were wrong and he had wrongly attributed Kasandra’s death to homicide. Experts who have looked at the case have come to some damning conclusions about Dr. Smith’s work. They refer to his opinions as “unreliable in the extreme”, “inappropriate and misleading” and “pseudo-scientific. They conclude that the case of Kasandra’s death could not be determined but it could have resulted from a pre-existing epileptic condition, or from a mild head injury resulting from a fall that became fatal.  Today, Maria Shepherd is asking the Court of Appeal to consider the new evidence, and set aside her guilty plea and acquit her of the manslaughter of Kasandra. Her request is supported by the Attorney General of Ontario.... Maria’s case is another deplorable example of unsustainable assertions made by a seemingly infallible expert witness. There were other repercussions from her case. Kasandra’s family doctor was charged with obstruction of justice but, fortunately, the charge was dismissed. A lengthy Inquest was held, with much media attention and public scrutiny, and resulted in 73 recommendations to several government agencies on the basis that “concrete changes have to be done to our society’s outlook on child abuse.” Ms. Shepherd will be in the courtroom and will speak outside the court to the press afterward. She said today:  “The best thing for all these 25 years is that my family – my husband, Ashley, who was Kasandra’s father, my son Jordan (now 29), my daughter Natasha (26), Chelsea (25) and Chanel (22) – have supported me. They will all be with me at the appeal today. These have been painful years for us all. Kasandra was an important and special member of our family. We loved her. We believe that she is with us today and that she can now finally rest in peace.”AIDWYC’S senior counsel, James Lockyer, will be representing Maria Shepherd in the Court of Appeal."

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See "Woman implicated by Charles Smith's flawed evidence hopes for closure and peace." by reporter Wendy Gillis, published on February 28, 2016 by the Toronto Star. (A very fine, comprehensive story with background on other cases botched by Smith, a timeline, and Maria Shepherd on video. HL);

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2016/02/28/woman-implicated-by-charles-smiths-flawed-evidence-hopes-for-closure-and-peace.html 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 
 
Dear Reader.

Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: 

 
http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html

Harold Levy: Publisher;

Maria Shepherd: (Exoneration (7): Guilty plea series (4) ; Brenda Waudby: "Police charged her former babysitter with second-degree murder in 2005. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2006 and was sentenced to 22 months in custody in 2007. In his confession to police he admitted that he hit Jenna several times that fateful night, angry that he had to babysit. Waudby’s murder charge was dismissed in 1999. At the time she was facing the prospect of losing her two children for good, Waudby told court, and she took the only option she thought she had. Her understanding was that she could plead guilty to having abused Jenna prior to her death and the murder charge would be withdrawn. That, she said, would get her two children back. And it worked. Both children were returned to her following the guilty plea. But the ordeal didn’t end. Mistakes were made, she said, again and again and compounded over time. “It was like a freight train that couldn’t be stopped,” she said. The basis for both the child abuse and murder charge lay in the shoddy work of disgraced former child pathologist Dr. Charles Smith, who told investigators Jenna was injured while she was in Waudby’s care. Smith also said he discovered “old” rib injuries, which he said were an indication of previous abuse. Smith was later found to have given false testimony in a series of child death cases. He was stripped of his medical licence last year. Wheeler conceded that if the forensic pathology was done correctly in the first place, Waudby never would have been charged with anything."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  Maria Shepherd was not the only innocent person- grieving parent - to plead guilty to an offence in order to avoid having to face  former doctor Charles Smith. What is extraordinary is that I am aware of five cases in which innocent parents pleaded guilty to avoid what they had been assured would be an almost certain conviction - and much harsher sentence  -  all  because of one prosecution expert. This is extraordinary. The police and prosecutors loved Charles Smith for his ability to extract guilty pleas, close the case, and keep the public calm. (Until the stacked  deck of cards started collapsing); All the police officer had to do was hint to the  'suspect' that the Crown's expert pathologist was renowned throughout the province and beyond - and  the guilty plea was almost assured. Brenda Waudby's exoneration - including an unequivocal apology by Crown Counsel Alison Wheeler of the Attorney General's ministry - was reported by Sarah Death in an article which ran in the Peterborough Examiner on June 27, 2012, under the heading, "Judge overturns Waudby's 1999 child abuse conviction." (Of particular concern is Waudby's allegation - denied by prosecutors - that she was told that they would not withdraw the murder charge (of which she was utterly innocent) unless she entered a guilty plea to the child abuse charge, as detailed below. Both charges were based on the flawed evidence of none other than former doctor Charles Randal Smith. HL);

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

GIST: "Brenda Waudby is no longer a perpetrator of a violent crime against a child. She is no longer a criminal. She is now simply the mother to a young woman and a young man, and the grieving mother of a child whose violent murder was the event that set off her long legal nightmare. On Wednesday morning Madam Justice Michelle Fuerst overturned Waudby’s 1999 child abuse conviction, acquitting her of the charge. The ruling capped a 15-year ordeal for Waudby, the last step in a long, hard journey to clear her name. During the emotional Superior Court proceeding, Waudby heard something she’s waited 15 years for: an apology, issued by Crown attorney Alison Wheeler, who acknowledged that Waudby’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice. “The Crown apologizes to Brenda Waudby,” Wheeler said. Her child, 21-month-old Jenna, was the victim of a homicide, Wheeler said. “Ms. Waudby should have been treated as a grieving parent. She was not,” Wheeler said. Instead, Waudby became the prime suspect, interrogated by police and eventually charged with murdering her child in 1997. She was stigmatized by the community, Wheeler said, and her two children were taken from her by the Children’s Aid Society. It was wrong, Wheeler said, and it’s taken a long time to set it right. “For all of this, the Crown is deeply and sincerely sorry,” she said. It was an apology Waudby said she accepted whole-heartedly.........Police charged her former babysitter with second-degree murder in 2005. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2006 and was sentenced to 22 months in custody in 2007. In his confession to police he admitted that he hit Jenna several times that fateful night, angry that he had to babysit. Waudby’s murder charge was dismissed in 1999. At the time she was facing the prospect of losing her two children for good, Waudby told court, and she took the only option she thought she had. Her understanding was that she could plead guilty to having abused Jenna prior to her death and the murder charge would be withdrawn. That, she said, would get her two children back. And it worked. Both children were returned to her following the guilty plea. But the ordeal didn’t end. Mistakes were made, she said, again and again and compounded over time. “It was like a freight train that couldn’t be stopped,” she said. The basis for both the child abuse and murder charge lay in the shoddy work of disgraced former child pathologist Dr. Charles Smith, who told investigators Jenna was injured while she was in Waudby’s care. Smith also said he discovered “old” rib injuries, which he said were an indication of previous abuse. Smith was later found to have given false testimony in a series of child death cases. He was stripped of his medical licence last year. Wheeler conceded that if the forensic pathology was done correctly in the first place, Waudby never would have been charged with anything. When the babysitter pleaded guilty Crown attorney Brian Gilkinson told court the sitter admitted that his blows to Jenna’s abdomen “would’ve” caused rib injuries. But there was an error in the official court transcript, and Gilkinson’s statement read, “wouldn’t have.” The transcript was entered into proceedings during the Goudge Inquiry, a 2007 hearing that examined Smith’s work and child pathology in the province. The error became part of the public record. It wasn’t discovered until (Waudby's lawyer Julie) Kirkpatrick sought a court order allowing her to listen to the taped recordings of the babysitter’s proceedings. The babysitter’s confession was never disclosed to Waudby, nor was a medical report that indicated Jenna’s injuries may not be old, or notes written by investigators that indicated they realized Waudby may not be guilty of child abuse. Waudby’s lawyer, Julie Kirkpatrick, (a brilliant,  wonderful lawyer who fought tooth and nail for Brenda's exoneration; HL)  hammered on these facts in her submissions to the court. As she put it, the babysitter’s confession and a new pathology report fit together like a hand and glove. “All of the injuries occurred in the same time frame, and occurred under the babysitter’s watch,” Kirkpatrick said. “It is now an incontrovertible fact that Jenna did not have any old injuries when she died,” Kirkpatrick said."

The entire backgrounder on this case - written by Sarah Harland-Logan for AIDWYC's web-site - can be found at the link below;

 http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/2012/06/27/crown-apologies-to-brenda-waudby

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.

I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: 

 
http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html

Harold Levy: Publisher;

Maria Shepherd: (Exoneration (6): Guilty Plea series (3): Sherry Sherret-Robinson; "Sherry knew that she was innocent, but she also knew it was her words against the acclaimed Charles Smith, who would be the Crown’s star witness. Sherry’s lawyer did not believe that she could convince the court to believe her word over his. It looked as if Sherry would wind up spending many years in prison for a crime that she did not commit.[5] At the last moment before her trial began, the Crown prosecutor offered to withdraw the murder charge and proceed with a charge of infanticide instead. If convicted of infanticide, Sherry would face a drastically reduced prison term. In exchange, Sherry would have to agree not to argue against the Crown’s allegation that she had smothered Joshua. So, although she would officially be pleading not guilty to the new charge of infanticide, she would be agreeing with the Crown’s position that she had hurt her baby.[6] Despite Sherry knowing that she had not smothered Joshua, she felt that she had no choice but to accept this offer. She went to trial on the new charge of infanticide, and the Crown read out a list of agreed facts that included the untrue claim that she had smothered her son. The central supporting pillar of the Crown’s case was Charles Smith’s medical opinion that she was responsible for Joshua’s death."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  Maria Shepherd was not the only innocent,  grieving parent - to plead guilty to an offence in order to avoid having to face  former doctor Charles Smith. What is extraordinary is that I am aware of five cases in which innocent parents pleaded guilty to avoid what they had been assured would be an almost certain conviction - and much harsher sentence  -  all  because of one prosecution expert. This is extraordinary. The police and prosecutors loved Charles Smith for his ability to extract guilty pleas, close the case, and keep the public calm. (Until the stacked  deck of cards began  collapsing); All the police officer had to do was hint to the  'suspect' that the Crown's expert pathologist was renowned throughout the province and beyond - and   the guilty plea was almost assured. This post deals with Sherry-Robinson American-style 'nolo contendere' plea (acknowledgment of  certain facts without admission of guilt)  to infanticide to avoid being put on trial for murdering four-month-old  Joshua on the basis of Charles Smith's opinion.

GIST: "On January 22, 1996, Sherry Sherret-Robinson awoke to find her four-month-old son, Joshua, lying facedown in his playpen. Years later, she would write that “I will never forget the terror I felt when I reached down to pick him up and discovered that he was blue and his little body was completely stiff.” Sherry called 911, sobbing. In the hospital emergency room, doctors were unable to revive Joshua; “eventually,” she wrote, “the doctors came and told me he had died, and let me hold him to say goodbye.” All Sherry wanted to do was curl up in a hole beside him. Instead she sang him one last lullaby. Over a decade after Joshua’s death, Sherry found that “Even to this day, I cannot get that image out of my head.” When Sherry lost Joshua, she was only twenty years old.[1] Sherry knew that she had never hurt her son; she has always maintained that she did not harm him. However, Charles Smith, the now disgraced former pathologist who performed Joshua’s autopsy, took a very different view. Smith believed that Sherry had smothered Joshua to death. He claimed to have found several injuries on Joshua’s body – for example, swelling in Joshua’s brain and bleeding in his neck tissues – to support his conclusion.[2] As a result of these findings, police and Children’s Aid grew fearful for the safety of Sherry’s surviving son, eighteen-month-old Austin. On March 7, Austin was removed from her care. He was later put up for adoption, and Sherry was not allowed to have any contact with him.[3] In less than two months, Sherry had lost both her sons. On March 27, 1996, Sherry was arrested and charged with Joshua’s murder. Sherry's trial: Sherry knew that she was innocent, but she also knew it was her words against the acclaimed Charles Smith, who would be the Crown’s star witness. Sherry’s lawyer did not believe that she could convince the court to believe her word over his. It looked as if Sherry would wind up spending many years in prison for a crime that she did not commit.[5] At the last moment before her trial began, the Crown prosecutor offered to withdraw the murder charge and proceed with a charge of infanticide instead. If convicted of infanticide, Sherry would face a drastically reduced prison term. In exchange, Sherry would have to agree not to argue against the Crown’s allegation that she had smothered Joshua. So, although she would officially be pleading not guilty to the new charge of infanticide, she would be agreeing with the Crown’s position that she had hurt her baby.[6] Despite Sherry knowing that she had not smothered Joshua, she felt that she had no choice but to accept this offer. She went to trial on the new charge of infanticide, and the Crown read out a list of agreed facts that included the untrue claim that she had smothered her son. The central supporting pillar of the Crown’s case was Charles Smith’s medical opinion that she was responsible for Joshua’s death.[7] Predictably, on June 2, 1999, Sherry was found guilty of infanticide. She was sentenced to one year in prison, where other inmates called her a “baby killer.” It seemed that this stigma would follow Sherry for the rest of her life. Flawed medical evidence,  Six years after Sherry’s conviction, however, Charles Smith’s vaunted reputation had started crashing down. AIDWYC’s work on the Bill Mullins-Johnson case had raised serious doubts about Smith’s findings, and AIDWYC was growing suspicious of Smith’s conclusions in other cases as well. In April 2005, AIDWYC wrote to Dr. Barry McLellan – then the Chief Coroner for Ontario – and Michael Bryant – then the Attorney General – urging a full public inquiry into Smith’s work.[9] On June 7, 2005, Dr. McLellan announced in a press release that a formal review would be conducted into Smith’s work on 45 cases involving suspicious deaths of children.[10] This inquiry, led by Justice Stephen Goudge, resulted in the publication of the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario. In January 2006, Sherry happened to read something online about this inquiry into Smith’s cases. She immediately contacted AIDWYC, which advised her to get in touch with the Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner and request that her case be included in the investigation.[11] The results of this new investigation into Joshua’s death were both vindicating and alarming. The experts who reviewed Smith’s work found that his opinion was completely wrong. There was no evidence to support his finding that Joshua had been smothered to death. The reviewers found that rather than being murdered, Joshua had probably asphyxiated accidentally in the blankets and quilts that had been placed in his playpen. Sherry, who had always wondered if she had given Joshua too many blankets that night, would now have to live with the knowledge that this was probably true. While this innocent mistake tragically led to her beloved son’s death, the mistake was indeed just that: innocent.[12] Furthermore, the experts found that Smith had reached his incorrect conclusion by making a number of egregious errors in the autopsy process. Contrary to Smith’s opinion, there was no evidence of swelling in Joshua’s brain. Even more disturbing, the hemorrhages in Joshua’s neck tissue were actually caused by Smith’s procedures during the autopsy itself.[13] Moreover, the Goudge Inquiry found that Smith sometimes included “irrelevant or prejudicial information” in his autopsy reports, which may have affected his decision-making. For example, Smith wrote in Joshua’s final autopsy report that Sherry was married, but was not officially living with her husband so that she could keeping collecting welfare to help support herself and her two sons. Perhaps Smith was prejudiced against Sherry because he had learned this piece of “irrelevant social history,” which should have had nothing to do with Joshua’s autopsy results.[14] As AIDWYC lawyer James Lockyer put it, the cumulative effect of these mistakes made for “a pretty classic Dr. Smith problem,” since it had become clear that Smith “misdiagnoses, over-diagnoses, and turns natural deaths into homicides.”

The entire backgrounder on this  case - written by Sarah Harland-Logan for AIDWYC's web-site - can be found at the link below;:

https://www.aidwyc.org/cases/historical/sherry-sherrett-robinson/

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
  
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: 
  http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html

Harold Levy: Publisher;

Maria Shepherd: (Exoneration 5) Guilty plea series (2): Dinesh Kumar: "The day after Gaurov passed away, his autopsy was performed by the now disgraced ex-pathologist Charles Smith, who enjoyed a stellar reputation at the time. Smith concluded that Gaurov’s injuries were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, meaning that Dinesh had caused his son’s death by violently shaking him.[6] On June 26, 1992, Gaurov was arrested and charged with the second degree murder of his son. He later described his arrest as “a great shock”: “I was confused, frightened, humiliated and ashamed before my family and my community." Dinesh's guilty plea: Dinesh knew that he had done nothing to harm his son. However, he also knew that if convicted, he could face a lengthy prison term. Moreover, the prosecution would call Smith as their star witness, and Dinesh’s lawyer, Mr. David Gorrell, had informed him that Smith was seen as “a God” in the courtroom.[8] If Dinesh were found guilty and imprisoned, he would be abandoning his wife and remaining son, who depended on him for financial and personal support, especially since Veena had not yet recovered from her surgery. On top of everything else, he might be deported.[9] However, Dinesh had another option. The Crown offered him a plea bargain that would change his situation completely."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  Maria Shepherd was not the only innocent, grieving parent - to plead guilty to an offence in order to avoid having to face former doctor Charles Smith. What is extraordinary is that I am aware of five cases in which innocent parents pleaded guilty to avoid what they had been assured would be an almost certain conviction - and much harsher sentence  -  all  because of one prosecution expert. This is extraordinary. The police and prosecutors loved Charles Smith for his ability to extract guilty pleas, close the case, and keep the public calm. (Until the stacked deck of cards began collapsing); All the police officer had to do was hint to the  'suspect' that the Crown's expert pathologist was renowned throughout the province and beyond - and   the guilty plea was almost assured. The second post in this  series is the case of Dinesh Kumar which was documented on the AIDWYC site by author Sarah Harland-Logan. I am enclosing excerpts. The entire account can be  found at the link below.

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

GIST: "Dinesh Kumar immigrated to Canada from India with his wife, Veena, and their son, Saurob, in 1991. Their second child, also a son, was born on February 11, 1992. They named him Gaurov. Unfortunately, Veena had a seizure on the day of Gaurov’s birth and was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She had to stay in hospital for a month, but the tumour was successfully removed, and she returned home to her family on March 3. The family would only be able to spend a few weeks together before tragedy struck again.[1] In the early morning hours of March 18, 1992, Gaurov woke up crying. Dinesh fed his son milk from a bottle, burped him, and put him back in his crib. At 12:30 a.m., Gaurov woke up again, this time with a scream. Horrified, Dinesh saw that his son had stopped breathing and was turning blue. He told Veena that something was wrong, and performed CPR, to no effect. Dinesh and Veena – recent immigrants who were not yet fluent in English – were unfamiliar with the 911 system, so Dinesh phoned his brother-in-law to ask for help. His brother-in-law told him to call 911. Both Dinesh and Veena spoke to the 911 operator, who sent paramedics to their apartment.[2] The paramedics rushed Gaurov to the hospital, but it was too late: he had suffered irreversible brain damage and had to be placed on life support. Dinesh would later recall seeing his son “in bed, breathing and alive. For me as his father, I could not believe he was really dead.”[3] Tragically, Gaurov continued to show no brain activity, and on March 20, 1992, he passed away.[4] Dinesh and Veena’s tragedy was made still worse by the fact that coincidentally, Saurob had also suffered an episode of turning blue when he was an infant – although thankfully, Dinesh had been able to revive him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He mentioned this incident while in the hospital with Gaurov. Children’s Aid, fearing that Dinesh had caused these incidents, took Saurob away to stay with Veena’s brother, just as Gaurov’s life support was being removed. At first, neither of Saurob’s parents could see him and he would not be returned to Veena for over three months.[5] Gaurov’s Autopsy and Dinesh’s Arrest: Children’s Aid was not the only authority to suspect that Dinesh had played a role in Gaurov’s death. The day after Gaurov passed away, his autopsy was performed by the now disgraced ex-pathologist Charles Smith, who enjoyed a stellar reputation at the time. Smith concluded that Gaurov’s injuries were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, meaning that Dinesh had caused his son’s death by violently shaking him.[6] On June 26, 1992, Gaurov was arrested and charged with the second degree murder of his son. He later described his arrest as “a great shock”: “I was confused, frightened, humiliated and ashamed before my family and my community." Dinesh's guilty plea: Dinesh knew that he had done nothing to harm his son. However, he also knew that if convicted, he could face a lengthy prison term. Moreover, the prosecution would call Smith as their star witness, and Dinesh’s lawyer, Mr. David Gorrell, had informed him that Smith was seen as “a God” in the courtroom.[8] If Dinesh were found guilty and imprisoned, he would be abandoning his wife and remaining son, who depended on him for financial and personal support, especially since Veena had not yet recovered from her surgery. On top of everything else, he might be deported.[9] However, Dinesh had another option. The Crown offered him a plea bargain that would change his situation completely. If he pled guilty to criminal negligence causing death, then he would only spend 90 days in jail, to be served on weekends, and the police would not report his case to immigration officials. Instead of his family being torn apart, Dinesh would be allowed to live with Veena and Saurob. Both his lawyer and his wife encouraged him to take the deal so that the family could try to move on with their lives.[10] As Dinesh described it, “We were all scared of the murder charge. My lawyer told me that we did not have any way to challenge the testimony of Dr. Smith. So I agreed, after much discussion with my family, to plead guilty…. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I do not want my guilty plea to ever be interpreted to mean that I did anything to harm Gaurov. I did not. My wife knows this too.”[11] On December 3, 1992, Dinesh pled guilty to criminal negligence causing his son’s death. He was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment and two years probation. After his conviction, Dinesh’s life eventually “returned to normal,” but he never lost his “sense of shame that … [he] had had to admit to causing Gaurov’s death,” despite knowing that he was innocent.........Dinesh's acquittal;  On May 28, 2007, AIDWYC Senior Counsel James Lockyer visited Dinesh, and they agreed to try to reopen his case. In light of the Goudge Inquiry’s finding, the Crown agreed with AIDWYC that the case should be reopened and that Dinesh should be acquitted.[17] Five experts testified before the Ontario Court of Appeal, all of whom agreed that Gaurov’s cause of death was undetermined, rather than due to being shaken. In fact, several experts noted that the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome had become much more controversial since Dinesh’s conviction in 1992, and that there was no longer any consensus in the medical community as to whether this condition even existed. The experts concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that Dinesh had harmed his baby. One possibility is that Gaurov suffered a fatal hemorrhage caused by a head injury that he sustained during his birth.[18] On January 20, 2011, the Ontario Court of Appeal set aside Dinesh’s guilty plea and entered an acquittal. One of the judges, Justice Rosenberg, commented on “the terrible toll this case has taken on you and your family over these last 20 years.” Outside the courthouse, Dinesh showed reporters a photo of Gaurov that he always carries with him, and said, “This will be with me until the day I die.”.........Causes of Dinesh's wrongful conviction:  The main reason for Dinesh’s wrongful conviction was Charles Smith’s incorrect conclusion that Dinesh had shaken his son to death – an opinion that no one was willing to challenge. The results of the Goudge Inquiry definitively destroyed Smith’s once-stellar reputation. This comprehensive report found that Smith had no training in forensic pathology (his own field was paediatric pathology), which led to many horrific misdiagnoses that put many innocent people in prison.[20] Moreover, Smith was a terrible expert witness who often “provided unbalanced or emotive testimony, which tended to invite inappropriate and adverse conclusions.”[21] Smith was eventually stripped of his medical license.[22] Unlike his opinion in many other cases, Smith’s theory that Gaurov had died at the hands of his father was not unreasonable at the time. In fact, James Lockyer explained that he would “find it hard to be too critical of … [Smith] on this one, just because there were lots of pathologists who would have said the same thing back in 1992.”

The entire account can be found at:

https://www.aidwyc.org/cases/historical/dinesh-kumar/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 
 
Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
  
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: 
  http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html

Harold Levy: Publisher;


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Maria Shepherd: Exoneration (4) : Guilty plea series (1): Richard Brant; Other innocent people pleaded guilty in order avoid having to face once-famed former doctor Charles Smith in the courtroom: "Pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit was the hardest decision of Richard’s life. Years later, he would file an affidavit – part of his effort to clear his name – in which he explained that “I did nothing to cause Dustin’s death and I still grieve for him. I never did anything to hurt my son…. I did not cause Dustin’s death or assault him in any way, and pled guilty because I felt I had no other realistic option.”


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  Maria Shepherd was not the only innocent, grieving parent - to plead guilty to an offence in order to avoid having to face  former doctor Charles Smith. What is extraordinary is that I am aware of five cases in which innocent parents pleaded guilty to avoid what they had been assured would be an almost certain conviction - and much harsher sentence  -  all  because of one prosecution expert. This is extraordinary. The police and prosecutors loved Charles Smith for his ability to extract guilty pleas, close the case, and keep the public calm. (Until the stacked  deck of cards began  collapsing); All the police officer had to do was hint to the  'suspect' that the Crown's expert pathologist was renowned throughout the province and beyond - and   the guilty plea was almost assured. I am starting this series with AIDWYC's account of Richard Brant's guilty plea to aggravated assault - rather than manslaughter. I have included excerpts below. The entire backgrounder on the Brant case - written by Sarah Harland-Logan for AIDWYC's web-site - can be found at the link below;

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

GIST: "On November 17, 1992, nineteen-year-old Richard Brant, of Belleville, Ontario, was out for a walk with Dustin, his infant son. Richard was very proud to be a new father and looked forward to raising Dustin with his girlfriend, Mary Farrell. When he ran into his cousin, Richard excitedly lifted up the hood on Dustin’s baby carriage to introduce the two. He was horrified to find that Dustin was motionless in the carriage, with red foam around his nose. Richard and his cousin immediately rushed Dustin to a nearby restaurant and called 911. Dustin was briefly revived at the hospital, but the doctors soon told Richard and Mary the devastating news that their baby was not going to survive. Dustin passed away on November 18, only nine weeks after his birth.[1] A nearby police officer had happened to observe Richard’s initial, horrified reaction when he saw that Dustin was not moving. This officer thought that Richard was indeed both surprised and upset.[2] However, the police who investigated Dustin’s death took a different view. Dustin's autopsy: "Dustin’s autopsy was performed at the Kingston General Hospital, by Dr. Sukrita Nag, a Professor of Neuropathology. Dr. Nag concluded that Dustin had died due to complications from pneumonia, which made sense to Richard, since Dustin had been suffering from an upper respiratory infection shortly before his death.[3] However, the police investigators still believed that Richard had killed his son, despite the complete absence of any evidence to support this theory. They requested a second opinion from the now infamous Charles Smith, who was then regarded as Ontario’s leading pediatric forensic pathologist.[4] Smith reached a very different conclusion from that of Dr. Nag. In his report of April 15, 1993, Smith stated that Dustin exhibited the classic symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome, and that Richard’s shaking his son had led to Dustin’s death. Smith arrogantly claimed that Dr. Nag’s autopsy report should be “filed in the garbage can.”[5 Smith felt comfortable submitting this report even though he had not examined Dustin’s brain – which is absolutely crucial to making this diagnosis – since it had already decomposed owing to the fact morgue staff had accidentally left it in a container of water.[6] On April 22, 1993, Richard was arrested and charged with manslaughter.  Richard's plea bargain; Richard knew that he was innocent; but he also knew that he would face a stiff sentence if he were found guilty of manslaughter. Charles Smith would be the prosecution’s star witness, and Richard’s lawyer had told him that Smith was viewed as “the king” of his field. His compelling testimony could easily lead to a conviction, and Richard could spend up to fifteen years in jail.[8] In addition, Richard and Mary had separated, unable to bear the tragedy of Dustin’s death together; and Richard’s new partner, Lynne, was expecting a baby. Having just lost his first child, he could not bear the thought of not being part of this new baby’s life.[9] However, Richard had another option. After his preliminary hearing – where he had realized just “how much trouble … [he] was in” – the Crown prosecutor offered him a plea bargain. If Richard agreed to plead guilty to aggravated assault, then he could expect to spend only six to nine months in jail. Richard’s lawyer urged him to accept this offer. Richard agonized over what to do.[10] On April 21, 1995, Richard pled guilty to aggravated assault. He was sentenced to six months in prison.[11] After his release, Richard was ostracized by members of his community, who believed that he had killed his newborn baby. Richard soon moved to Montreal, and then to Moncton, hoping to start a new life.[12] Pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit was the hardest decision of Richard’s life. Years later, he would file an affidavit – part of his effort to clear his name – in which he explained that “I did nothing to cause Dustin’s death and I still grieve for him. I never did anything to hurt my son…. I did not cause Dustin’s death or assault him in any way, and pled guilty because I felt I had no other realistic option.” Flawed medical evidence:  For over a decade after his conviction, Richard tried to put this horrific chapter behind him, unaware that Charles Smith’s vaunted reputation had started to crumble. AIDWYC’s work on the Bill Mullins-Johnson case had raised serious doubts about Smith’s findings, and AIDWYC was growing suspicious of Smith’s conclusions in other cases as well. In April 2005, AIDWYC wrote to Dr. Barry McLellan – then the Chief Coroner for Ontario – and Michael Bryant – then the Attorney General – urging a full public inquiry into Smith’s work.[14] On June 7, 2005, Dr. McLellan announced in a press release that a formal review would be conducted into Smith’s work on 45 cases involving suspicious deaths of children.[15] One of these cases was Dustin’s. This inquiry, led by Justice Stephen Goudge, resulted in the publication of the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario.[16] The reviewer assigned to Dustin’s case was a forensic neuropathologist, Dr. Whitwell.[17] She concluded – and several other experts later agreed – that there was no evidence to support Smith’s finding that Richard had hurt Dustin. Dr. Whitwell stated that since Dustin’s brain had not been preserved properly, there should have been no finding as to his cause of death. She did note, however, that pneumonia might indeed have played a role, as Dr. Nag had originally found.[18] In May of 2007, Richard was surprised to hear from AIDWYC lawyer James Lockyer, who informed him that Dustin’s case had been reviewed and that the experts agreed that there was no evidence suggesting that Richard had harmed his son. Richard realized that “suddenly, … [his] vindication was possible and the truth about Dustin’s death might come out.”[19].........Causes of Richard’s Wrongful Conviction: The principal cause of Richard’s wrongful conviction was disgraced ex-pathologist Charles Smith’s baseless claim that Richard had caused Dustin’s death by shaking him. The results of the Goudge Inquiry definitively destroyed Smith’s once-stellar reputation. This comprehensive report found that Smith had no training in forensic pathology – the field in which he was trained was paediatric pathology – which led to many misdiagnoses such as that made in Dustin’s case.[24] Moreover, Smith was a terrible expert witness who often “provided unbalanced or emotive testimony, which tended to invite inappropriate and adverse conclusions.”[25] Smith was eventually stripped of his medical license.[26]......... The Wounds that AIDWYC Cannot Heal: “Destroyed” seems to be the word of choice to describe the impact of Richard’s wrongful conviction. After his acquittal, Richard explained that although a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders, “This just destroyed me.”[28] Or, as Mary, Dustin’s mother put it, “I knew he was innocent from day one, and I knew that they destroyed our lives and our family.”[29] She recalled how police treated them like criminals, though they were “loving young parents.”[30] When reporters asked him about Charles Smith, Richard understandably responded that “He ruined a lot of people’s lives. And I think he needs to go and see what it’s like inside jail ’cause he’s the one that put a lot of people there.”[31] Smith’s report that cost Richard so much was “not a little wee mistake,” after all, but rather “a life mistake”: one that pertains to “lives he’s destroyed.”[

The entire  account can be found at:


https://www.aidwyc.org/cases/historical/richard-brant/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 


Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.

Bulletin: Justina Pelletier: Massachusetts: Her father says the lawsuit Justina's parents have launched against Boston Children’s Hospital and Dr. Alice Newton for allegedly accusing them of medical child abuse was not about revenge but rather about making people accountable and making the medical community think twice before they take actions that can do damage to a child and a family that can be irreversible." ..."Justina was being treated at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease when her parents brought her to Children’s Hospital with gastrointestinal problems in 2013. Doctors at Children’s concluded that she was a victim of medical child abuse as a result of her parents interfering with her care. A juvenile court judge, relying on the opinion of those doctors, removed Justina from her parents’ custody. She was placed in a locked psychiatric ward at the hospital, where, her parents say, she was denied an education and not allowed to attend Mass. Children’s Hospital said that patients and their families have access to the hospital’s multifaith chaplains and tutors."


 https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/02/25/parents-justina-pelletier-sue-boston-children-hospital-for-negligence/jCrlgTQBVikJtokEnlFBmN/story.html






Friday, February 26, 2016

Bulletin: Neil Bantleman: Indonesia; Disturbing Development: He has surrendered to Indonesian authorities and is back on prison following reversal of his acquittal. CTV News:


"Canadian schoolteacher Neil Bantleman has turned himself in to Indonesian custody, after the country’s supreme court overturned his acquittal on charges that he and an Indonesian teacher allegedly abused three children. Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong had been sentenced to 10 years in prison last April. Both appealed to the country's High Court which acquitted them in August. The pair had their acquittal overturned on Wednesday. Chandra Saptaji, head of the general crime section at the South Jakarta Prosecutors' Office, said Bantleman, who was in Bali, surrendered after communicating with authorities through the Canadian Embassy. "I can say that he was co-operative," Saptaji told The Associated Press. "He took the initiative by flying back to Jakarta escorted by officials from the embassy and the prosecutors' office. Bantleman was admitted to Cipinang Prison, the same prison in Jakarta where Tjiong was taken into custody on Thursday. The reversal has stunned Bantleman's family members."......... Both Bantleman and Tijong worked at the Jakarta International School, which is now called the Jakarta Intercultural School. The 2,400 students in the school include children of foreign diplomats and expatriates from about 60 countries along with Indonesia's elite. The school's principal and a number of other teachers have said they believe Bantleman is innocent. Last December, five janitors at the school who were arrested in the same case were sentenced to up to eight years in jail. Police said a sixth suspect in that group died of suicide."

Forensic science reform: Former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says in 'U.S.A. Today' that the American criminal justice system wrongs too many - and that the rise in exonerations of convicted criminals must spur forensic science reform, more access to lawyers and tougher oversight of police and prosecutors." (Must Read. HL);


COMMENTARY: "Justice system harms too many," by former U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, published by U.S.A. Today, on February 10, 2016.  (Alberto R. Gonzales, the attorney general and White House counsel in the George W. Bush administration, is the Dean and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Professor of Law at Belmont University College of Law.)


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Neil Bantleman; Indonesia: Disturbing Development; CBC News reports that: His conviction for sex assault upheld by Indonesia supreme court; He was not in custody at the time of reporting but is banned from leaving the country; Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs has decried the 'unjust' decision; His prison sentence has been increased by the appeal court; "The convictions occurred despite a lack of witnesses, with allegations Bantleman committed the assaults during the school day in his office, which is a clear glass structure. Allegations that one of the children contracted herpes from the alleged assault were not supported by independent testing in Europe, the fifth estate found. Four male janitors at the school were already sentenced to eight years in prison in that case and a woman received a seven-year prison sentence as an accomplice. Police said a sixth suspect killed himself in custody by drinking bathroom cleaner. The South Jakarta District Court threw out a civil lawsuit in which one child's parents sought $125 million from the school for alleged negligence."


STORY:  "Conviction for sex assault upheld by Indonesia supreme court;  Not currently in custody, published by CBC News on February 25, 2016.

SUB-HEADING: Canadian government decries 'unjust' decision.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "In this Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, file photo, Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman, right, walks with Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdi Tjiong before the start of their trial in Jakarta. The Indonesian Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the acquittal of Bantleman, ordering him to serve prison time for sexually abusing students at a private school."

GIST:  "Indonesia's Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the acquittal of Neil Bantleman and ordered the Canadian sentenced to prison for sexually abusing students at a private school where he taught. Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong also had his original conviction restored. The Burlington Ont., native and Tijong were originally sentenced to 10 years in prison, verdicts overturned by the Jakarta High Court in August 2015. However, as Bantleman's passport was revoked, he was not allowed to leave the country pending the government's appeal. Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi said a three-member judge panel made the decision Thursday, adding an additional year onto their sentences. "The judge panel concluded that the defendants were proven to have violated the 2007 Child Protection Law," said Suhardi, who uses a single name. "It did not only reinstate the District Court's verdict but also lengthened the sentence to 11 years." Bantleman and Tijong are also fined the equivalent of $7,440 CDN. Chandra Saptaji, head of the general crime section at the South Jakarta Prosecutors' Office, said Tjiong was taken from his house early in the day and was now serving his sentence at the Cipinang Prison in eastern Jakarta. "We are still looking for Bantleman, who is actually under a ban to leave the country," Saptaji said. "Hopefully, he is cooperative and complying with Indonesia law." Under Indonesian law, both Bantleman and Tijong still could challenge the sentence by filing for judicial review by the Supreme Court if they have new evidence. St├ęphane Dion, minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement the Canadian government was "deeply dismayed" by the reversal. "This decision is unjust, given the many grave irregularities throughout the various proceedings in this case and the fact that all evidence presented by the defence has systematically been rejected," the statement read. "Mr. Bantleman and Mr. Tjiong were not provided the opportunity to demonstrate their innocence. Despite Canada's repeated calls for due process, this case was not handled in a fair and transparent manner."......... Neil Bantleman and his wife Tracy, also a teacher, had travelled to the country together for job opportunities at Jakarta International School (JIS), an upscale private school where about 2,400 students are enrolled. Bantleman, 46, was accused of assaulting three kindergarten-aged boys between January 2013 and March 2014 He recounted the stunning day where he was jailed to CBC's the fifth estate. "I'm going into a prison, it's one in the morning. Is this a movie? Is this a nightmare?" he said. The school has supported Bantleman and Tijong throughout the legal process......... The convictions occurred despite a lack of witnesses, with allegations Bantleman committed the assaults during the school day in his office, which is a clear glass structure. Allegations that one of the children contracted herpes from the alleged assault were not supported by independent testing in Europe, the fifth estate found. Four male janitors at the school were already sentenced to eight years in prison in that case and a woman received a seven-year prison sentence as an accomplice. Police said a sixth suspect killed himself in custody by drinking bathroom cleaner. The South Jakarta District Court threw out a civil lawsuit in which one child's parents sought $125 million from the school for alleged negligence."

The entire story can be found at:

 http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/world/bantleman-indonesia-supreme-court-1.3463266

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 
 
Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: 
 
http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith
 

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html

HAROLD LEVY: PUBLISHER; THE CHARLES  SMITH BLOG.