Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brenda Waudby:(2): Prosecutor Alison Wheeler's moving apology. A fitting close to a 15-year ordeal. (HL);

Publisher's view: I attended today's hearing during which Prosecutor Alison Wheeler and Defence Counsel Julie Kirkpatrick jointly urged Justice Michelle Fuerst to strike the guilty plea to child abuse, quash the conviction and substitute a verdict of acquittal. In my career as a criminal lawyer and journalist, I don't think that I have ever heard such a thoughtful, moving apology from a prosecutor. Although it is difficult to feel anything but bitterness over the sorely flawed, cruel criminal justice system in Ontario that put Brenda Waudby and her family through a 15-tyear-old deal, there is something redemptive in knowing that someone in the system could express publicly such empathy for a person the government has wrongly prosecuted.

Judge for yourself:

"The Crown is deeply sorry for how Ms. Waudby has suffered as a result of being wrongfully convicted of abusing Jenna. Her daughter was the victim of a homicide. She should have been treated like a grieving parent. She was not. Due to flawed forensic pathology she had to deal with being the focus of a police investigation, being charged with murder and being stigmatized as an abusive mother. Although the CAS (Children's Aid Society) had legitimately been involved with the family because of other issues, when all things are considered it would seem that she was wrongly deprived of her two other children for periods of time largely because of Dr. Smith’s opinions. She was wrongly placed in the position of having to rebuild a parental relationship with her older daughter, J., who at one point came to believe that her mother may have been responsible for Jenna’s death. She was wrongly stigmatized in a small community over a long period of time. And, it has taken a very long time for all of this to be set straight. For all of this, the Crown is deeply and sincerely sorry."

It is also worth noting that the apology, which is effectively made on behalf of the province, is being backed up by some commendable actions.

As Ms. Wheeler continued:

"While these wrongs can never fully be made right, a number of steps have and will be taken. For instance:

 Jenna’s case was one of a set of cases that were examined in detail at the “Goudge Inquiry” into pediatric forensic pathology in Ontario. This provided Ms Waudby with some answers about how Dr. Smith came to hold such weight with police and prosecutors, and how his incompetence went unnoticed and unchecked for so many years.

 Ms Waudby participated in a compensation process that resulted from the Inquiry. This compensation process was intended to recognize the moral responsibility of the Government for the suffering that resulted from the faulty forensic pathology relating to the deaths of the children in the group of cases examined by the Goudge Inquiry. The Inquiry compensation process was connected to the murder charge. A similar process has now been extended to deal with these proceedings.

 The Crown and other parties have settled law suits with Ms Waudby.

 The government has also paid Ms Waudby’s disbursements incident to bringing this appeal, and will pay the costs for Jenna’s re-burial (her ribs were not buried originally).

 The Crown is arranging for Ms Waudby to meet with a senior official in the Criminal Law Division, to address her concerns about the manner in which the prosecution of J.D. proceeded.

 Ms Waudby is going to meet with forensic pathologist Dr. Chris Milroy, who reviewed the case for the purpose of this appeal, to address any remaining questions she has about Jenna’s injuries and death.

 The Crown is making inquiries to determine if Ms Waudby’s name can be
removed from the Child Abuse Registry, and if so, what steps need to be taken to have her name removed."Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;


I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

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:

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

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;