Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Every once and a while a book is published which brings exceptional clarity and insight into its subject matter.

“Accused to Acquitted: The clue is in the evidence” by Dr. Patricia Horsham is one such book.

It cuts through layers of myth and junk science to illustrate on a case by case basis how parents and caregivers have been wrongly convicted because so-called medical experts willfully ignored innocent explanations which might explain a child’s tragic death. (Chapter Eight, for example, is headed: “Medical disease versus Shaken Baby Syndrome);

Horsham is an Emergency Pediatrician who has written extensively on the medical assessment of sexually abused children and actively participated in the legal process through her testimony as an expert witness in court.

“I have found that the most significant problems occur in the interpretation of medical data when overzealous, incorrect choices are made between two aspects of interpretation of one piece of information, without any justifiable supporting evidence for that choice,” she writes. “Unfortunately the choice is often to support the foregone conclusion of child abuse, without realizing that the diagnosis is based only on one doctor’s suspicion.

Horsham recognizes the helplessness of suspected, (but innocent) parents, who’s quiet voices “are ignored by the great and powerful professional groups,” - and who face “an overwhelming assumption that once the suspicion of child abuse has been raised that the parents are lying…and any further information is greeted with similar skepticism.”

The ten chapters contain dozens of concrete examples in which parents and caregivers were put through hell because so-called experts did not do their job in a scientific and dispassionate way.

“Accused to Acquitted” is written in easy to understandable language which is backed up by a glossary that helps the reader make sense of the medical terminology, and should be useful to parents, doctors, defence lawyers, prosecutors and judges – as well as ordinary people who have high expectations of their criminal justice system.

I only wish it would have been written about twenty-five years ago when Dr. Charles Smith began his rampage through Ontario’s criminal justice system.

Had it been available, I doubt if we have seen the harm caused to so many innocent people – many of them grieving parents – whose lives were turned upside down by his faulty opinions and refusal to consider innocent explanations for the child’s death.

Dr. Horsham has done an important public service by publishing this book which may also be relevant in countries far beyond Canada’s borders.

Copies may be obtained by email through,,,;

Harold Levy…;