This is a very sad book about infant death in Ontario. It is really sad to read that pediatric pathologists are so much to blame for them.
In the Mid-1990s, the Chief Coroner’s Office in Ontario decided that death investigation teams needed to think dirty when faced with pediatric deaths. Coroners, pathologists and police were told to suspect child abuse was involved until they could prove otherwise. No one embraced this directive more zealously than Dr. Charles Smith, Ontario’s top pediatric forensic pathologist, and few in the field shared his influence and professional reputation.
The results were catastrophic.
Smith had virtually no training in forensics and little understanding of his proper role in the investigations. Nearly half of the autopsies he conduced in suspicious death cases were flawed, resulting in false accusations, desperate plea deals and wrongful convictions. Families were torn apart, children were forced into foster care, years were lost to prison.
A disciplinary committee would eventually find Smith incompetent and guilty of professional misconduct, but it was little comfort to his victims. Their lives had been shattered.
In this penetrating yet meticulously research and heartbreaking book, award-winning journalist and documentarian John Chipman takes us inside the homes and lives of our families devastated by Smith’s arrogant ineptitude. Their stories lay bare years of helplessness and resilience. And each one begins with a death in the family.
This is a difficult book to read. But it is something that is going on, and something that all Ontarians should be aware of.
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth