Virginia Mount was a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful boys. She lived a normal and happy life with her boyfriend and two sons, Jace, 15 months old, and Colten, three years old. In their recreation time they enjoyed fishing, sailing, picnicking, and simply relaxing and playing together. On November 11, 2015, Jace stood up on top of the sofa. As he came tumbling down onto the floor, his arm broke and the whole world he lived in with his family, shattered to pieces. After the fall, as she waited in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital waiting room in Columbus, Ohio, Virginia felt as if time had frozen. Initially, she didn’t think the fall was very serious. After all, it was just a tumble. But when he was transferred from their local hospital to this one, Virginia felt a knot form in her stomach. At that point, though, her greatest fear was merely that Jace would have to endure the physical pain of an injury. She had no idea that her entire family was about to be destroyed, that both her sons would suffer the devastating trauma of losing their families, possibly forever, and that she would be incarcerated for a crime she did not commit.
The diagnosis of "shaken baby syndrome" has previously been questioned both medically and legally. Now comes the SBU and Smers investigative report that argues that the evidence of skakvåld does not measure up. The Swedish Council on Technology and Social Evaluation and the National Medical Ethics have jointly investigated the scientific basis for the diagnosis skakvåld to infants or in English "shaken baby syndrome". After reviewing the scientific literature, explains the SBU and Smers report, there is not sufficient scientific evidence to establish that the typical damage is certainly caused by skakvåld.
Earlier this year Health Impact News reported how the British General Medical Council (GMC) erased Dr. Waney Squier’s name from the medical register, effectively removing her license to practice medicine and ending her medical career. Known as the UK’s leading scientist in the field of pediatric neuropathology and having worked as a consultant at the John Radcliffe Hospital for 32 years, Dr. Squier's crime was that she found the medical diagnosis of "Shaken Baby Syndrome" (SBS) to be "rubbish" and without scientific merit. The diagnosis of SBS has been used in many courts to convict innocent parents of abusing their children by shaking them, and many of these convictions are now being overturned in the United States. According to the BBC, over 350 doctors, scientists and lawyers questioning the decision to remove Dr. Squier’s medical license have written a letter of support to the British Medical Journal. Dr. Squier's appeal to be put back on the register and be allowed to practice medicine again started this week.
"I do not think that you can get a fair child abuse trial before a jury anywhere in the country… I do not care how sophisticated or law smart jurors are, when they hear that a child has been abused, a piece of their mind closes up, and this goes for the judge, the jurors, and all of us. …we do not care whether it is the right individual or not. Somebody should be punished for this heinous crime." –Abner Mivka, Former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals/District of Columbia Circuit Judge Mikva’s assertion, that child abuse might affect jury verdicts, is used to illustrate “generic prejudice.” But it’s not just judges and juries that are prejudiced. Child abuse pediatricians, doctors, their institutions, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the entire system of Child Protective Services (CPS) and law enforcement are all too often guilty of generic prejudice as well. As thousands of innocent families increasingly become subject to heinous accusations of child abuse by pediatricians and doctors, the tragedy of false accusations and convictions is increasing. But the medical and child protection system’s lack of impartiality is just the tip of the iceberg. More shocking are the many ways in which the medical profession and its child abuse pediatric specialty hide stereotyping, arrogance, abuse of authority and twisted “science” when it claims to “diagnose” child abuse – which is in fact a legal allegation, not truly a medical diagnosis. With agonizing slowness, as families’ stories are told, some are finally beginning to look more closely and question the assumptions on which child abuse pediatrics are based.
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Opens the Legal Door to Retry All Shaken Baby Syndrome Convictions
As the medical profession continues to debate the merits of "Shaken baby syndrome" (SBS), the American judicial system is increasingly determining that the evidence against SBS is strong enough to prevent convictions in a court of law, where the standard is "reasonable doubt." As Christina England reports, Chief Justice Ralph Gants from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts just ruled this month that another SBS case in Massachusetts must be re-tried, because evidence contrary to the supposed "science" behind SBS was not presented at the trial. Judge Gants even went beyond just issuing a ruling to provide legal advice to attorneys seeking to represent their clients against SBS claims. So now the question remains: if these parents have had their children removed illegally, and many of these parents have wrongly been convicted and incarcerated, should doctors who are responsible for these injustices be tried in a court of law for their crimes? An important case was heard last year in the Ninth Circuit Court, which ruled that Dr. Claudia Wang, the medical director of UCLA’s Suspected Child Abuse and Negligence (SCAN) team, does not have immunity from civil lawsuits, may have set an important legal precedent.
The medical theory of "shaken baby syndrome" (SBS) is quickly losing credibility, with many doctors, scientists, and attorneys now speaking out against SBS and the fact that innocent parents have been falsely accused of child abuse. Courts are now re-trying some cases based on testimonies from these doctors and professionals, and some cases have recently been over-turned. The medical profession is fighting back. The reasons are quite obvious. To admit that the theory behind SBS is false, would open the door to major litigation, as the theory has been used to convict thousands of parents of child abuse, and to perhaps remove tens of thousands of children from their homes and families. There is also massive federal funding available to seize these children, making them an asset to the state. So the apparent strategy of the medical profession is to attack those doctors now testifying against SBS on behalf of innocent parents, destroying their credibility and license to practice. Without their expert testimony, it will be much more difficult to fight false SBS convictions. The latest effort along that front is the action the British General Medical Council has taken against world renowned pediatric neuropathologist Dr. Waney Squier, who has now had her career effectively destroyed for testifying to the truth.