TORONTO — People who were wrongfully convicted or accused of killing children based in part on the testimony of disgraced forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Smith will be eligible to apply for compensation from the Ontario government.
The province is offering “recognition payments” for 19 people and some of their family members, “whose lives have been significantly impacted as a result of flawed pediatric forensic pathology,” said Attorney General Chris Bentley.
“This is our way of providing recognition for some of the hurt, some of the pain, some of the anguish those deeply affected by flawed pediatric forensic pathology in these cases have undergone,” he said.
People who were convicted, charged or investigated as a result of flawed pathology can be included in the compensation process.
Retired judge Chester Misener will look at the 19 cases as applications for compensation come in, and will make a decision within 90 days about who is eligible and the amount each individual will receive, with a top payment of $250,000.
A child of an accused who was removed from the home may be eligible for up to $25,000. A family member directly affected by their relative’s case may get up to $12,500, while other family members may be reimbursed for legal costs up to that amount.
One of the most well-known cases involving Smith is that of William Mullins-Johnson, who spent 12 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of his four-year-old niece. His conviction was quashed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2007 and he has launched a $13-million lawsuit against six doctors, including Smith.
David Robins, a lawyer who represents Mullins-Johnson, called the payments a “pittance.”
“I think that for many of these victims, compensation of up to $250,000 is inadequate,” he said.
However, Robins said the announcement is positive because it moves “the matter of compensation forward.”