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See “The Syndrome” documentary about Medical Corruptions and Wrongful Convictions in Shaken Baby Syndrome Prosecutions

Susan Goldsmith, award-winning investigative journalist and co-filmmaker of “The Syndrome” documentary, will be a guest speaker at the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ) on Saturday, Sept 26, 2015. Venue address: 1201 East Speedway Blvd, Tucson AZ 85721. Have questions about this event, email Susan Swanbergswanberg@email.Arizona.edu – PRE-REGISTRATION is REQUIRED. Venue capacity is 50 people. Breakfast and lunch will be served.  

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The Syndrome” documentary won the Cultural Spirit Award at the New Hope Film Festival in New Hope, PA.

Award

The Long Island International Film Expo nominations have been announced and ‪#‎TheSyndromeFilm‬ is a Best Documentary Nominee! Thank you ‪#‎2015LIIFE‬ and Bellmore Movies staff and audience.

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For press inquiry, contact Jenny Bloom
Email: jb@prodigypublicrelations.com
Tel: (310) 857-2020 x 131

Visit the official Facebook page of “The Syndrome” for latest information on Film Festival screening locations.

Check out this eye-opening and shocking documentary film, “The Syndrome” co-created by award-winning investigative journalist Susan Goldsmith and filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith. After watching the film, you won’t look at the medical profession and the criminal justice system the same way again.

Highlights from Matt Coker at the OC Weekly who reviewed “The Syndrome” documentary when it was screened in California in April 2015: A 1998 cover package by reporter Susan Goldsmith broke the story that one of LA’s most prestigious law firms was using private in-house investigators to illegally spy on litigation opponents by obtaining their confidential health and financial records. She went on to pour years of research into shaken baby syndrome, discovering that it was a creation of junk science and many were being unjustly prosecuted for it around the country.

Her reporting is the basis of a documentary “The Syndrome” she collaborated on with her cousin, Meryl Goldsmith

While Susan Goldsmith appears as a talking head in the picture, the real stars are the doctors, defendants, scientists and legal scholars who pierce gaping holes into shaken baby syndrome allegations. Included is Audrey Edmunds, a mother of three and prisoner of 11 years for killing a baby she never harmed. 

And then there are the physicians who have turned speaking in courts, at conferences and from their own national center on shaken baby syndrome into gold–despite there being no peer-reviewed science to justify the syndrome’s existence.

Scroll down to see the film trailer and other media interviews about the film.

Twitter handle: @TheSyndromeFilm , Link to Reset Films, the official website of “The Syndrome”

Magazine Profile of “The Syndrome” by Lauren Kirchner at Pacific+Standard Magazine

Watch the trailer

Watch TV interview with filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith with Fox31 TV station in Denver Colorado.

Watch “The Syndrome” documentary producers Meryl Goldsmith and Susan Goldsmith with Kathy Hyatt who was exonerated in an interview with Kansas City Live TV show before the film’s premiere at the 2014 Kansas International Film Festival.

“The Syndrome” documentary Director/Producer Meryl Goldsmith in an interview with WSCA radio host Shawn Henderson in Portsmouth, New Hampshire before the 2014 New Hampshire Film Festival

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Dr. Waney Squier who was once a big believer in Shaken Baby Syndrome made U-Turn to appear as Expert Witness for Defense

UPDATE April 4, 2013 See this news link from the UK Daily Mail published on March 7, 2013: “We were accused of abusing the child we adore: It’s the most harrowing ordeal  imaginable – yet it happens more and more“. Three innocent couples in the UK share their  stories. One of the accused British parent, Heather Toomey, has written a book called “When Truth No Longer Matters” available for purchase as paperback or e-book on Amazon, iTune, Lulu, Kobo, Nook and Google Play. Toomey’s son Sean actually has a genetic condition called “Storage Pool Disorder” that caused him to have a brain hemorrhage when he was just 3-weeks-old. The Shaken Baby Syndrome child abuse accusations are not isolated incidents. You can also read the stories on the “FeatureWorld” article in the UK. In addition, a Wisconsin mom Audrey Edmunds was wrongfully convicted of SBS homicide, she spent 11 years in prison for a crime she never committed. Edmunds wrote her book, “It Happened to Audrey” and she was interviewed by Katie Couric on her talk show in December 2012.

At least half of all parents tried over shaken baby syndrome have been wrongly  convicted, expert warns
By Angela Levin
UPDATED:12:13 EST, 1 May 2011
The UK Daily Mail

It is a case that haunts Dr Waney Squier and one any parent will find deeply  distressing.

Eleven years ago, Lorraine Harris stood trial at Nottingham Crown Court  charged with manslaughter. Although described as a woman of good character and a  careful and caring mother, she was accused of shaking her four-month-old baby  Patrick to death two years earlier.

Neuropathologist Dr Squier wrote a report for the prosecution saying that the  child was the victim of shaken baby syndrome (SBS).

Lorraine, who vehemently protested her innocence, was convicted and jailed  for three years.

Her punishment was not limited to incarceration, as tragic consequences  rippled out from Patrick’s death. Lorraine wasn’t allowed to go to his funeral;  a baby she gave birth to as she was starting her sentence was taken away for  adoption; her partner left her and both her parents died while she was in  prison. Her life fell apart.

By the time Lorraine’s appeal was heard in 2005, Dr Squier had become  convinced the criteria she had used to define whether SBS had taken place were  wrong. In a complete U-turn, she now appeared as an expert witness for the  defence. Lorraine’s conviction was quashed.

It is difficult to imagine Lorraine’s feelings as she digested this news. Relief, perhaps, but the occasion could hardly be described as joyous. One of her children had died and she had not been allowed to grieve. Another child had been taken from her. And she would possibly never be free from the taint of the original conviction.

‘Her conviction was overturned but it was a hollow victory because her life  had been completely devastated,’ says Dr Squier, who had helped right a wrong  but could not erase the pain it had caused.

‘I did and sometimes still do feel terrible about what happened.

‘I now believe that half or even more of those who have been brought to trial  in the past for SBS have been wrongly convicted. It is a frightening thought.’

It is indeed, and it is an extraordinary claim but one that should be taken  seriously. Dr Squier, 63, is the most experienced paediatric neuropathologist in  the country. She has spent 30 years researching baby brains and has a solid  international reputation.

She has appeared countless times in court as an expert witness in cases of  SBS, when a child is said to have been shaken so violently that it results in  brain injury or death.

You would imagine that when such an eminent scientist says recent scientific  developments show that, in the past, she and others have been wrong about SBS,  she would be listened to.

Instead Dr Squier has been on the receiving end of vicious attacks by some  doctors, lawyers and police officers who do not like her views. She has even  been referred to as a supporter of child abusers.

‘Why would I want to do that?’ she asks.

‘I have children of my own. I am chilled by the thought of getting it wrong  because of the risk of sending babies back to abusive households, or taking them  away from families, or putting people in prison.’

About 250 SBS cases go to court each year. Expert witnesses play a pivotal  role in trials. Babies often do not have any symptoms other than bleeding to the  head and eyes so, unlike most criminal cases, the opinion of the pathologist may  be the only evidence to consider.

However, some convictions are controversial. The problem has been that there  is no single agreed definition of SBS. Instead, for the past 30 years, the  findings of a U.S. radiologist, John Caffey, have been used in courts.

These findings centre on three signs – swelling of the brain, bleeding  between the skull and the brain, and bleeding in the retina – known collectively  as the triad. If they are present then a conviction is likely.

But Dr Squier is one of a growing number of doctors who believe that relying  on the triad alone is no longer enough.

‘Over the past ten years so much more has been discovered about how a baby’s  brain develops in its first year and these developments have seriously  undermined SBS,’ she explains.

‘We now know, for example, that almost half of babies have a triad at birth,  which can be caused by different factors.

‘In the past four years there have been several discoveries about the dura,  the membrane covering the brain. It was thought that it was there to protect the  brain from shock, but we now know it also has the very important function of  controlling blood flow out of the brain.

‘At birth the dura has huge blood channels that can leak – and not  always as  a result of trauma. They do, however, disappear during the  child’s second year  of life.

‘These findings are so significant  that I now believe that half or even more  of those who have been brought to trial in the past for SBS have been wrongly  convicted.

‘I am also  convinced we can virtually exclude shaking as a cause of death in  babies unless, as well as bleeding in the brain, we have additional evidence  of  trauma, such as serious damage to the neck.

‘When a baby is  shaken, the head will flop back and forth and the neck  becomes the weak  point. In other words, if you shake a baby so hard that it  dies, it is  the neck that is going to show the damage, not the brain.’

Although her view is gathering momentum worldwide, it has ignited an  increasingly toxic argument between doctors, lawyers and police.

‘Some pathologists want to remain in an unchallenging comfort zone of an  outdated theory,’ Dr Squier explains.

‘Some judges don’t like the fact that new scientific discoveries make  convictions more complex, and the police don’t like them because it can  prevent them from getting the convictions they want.

‘I think the police are so put-out that they are trying to ban me from court.  It’s why I would like Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke to set up an inquiry into  the methods police have used to deter expert witnesses who challenge old  mainstream beliefs.

‘This raises serious concerns that one side of the argument is not being  heard and means there cannot be a fair trial.

‘If I am blocked from giving evidence in court, defendants already having to  cope with the tragic death of a baby will not get the benefit of the new  science. Equally, if the courts fail to accept that the mainstream view of 30  years ago can no longer be relied upon, there will be serious miscarriages of  justice.’

Dr Squier, who is divorced with two grown-up daughters, is devoted to her  work and, despite the pressure she is under, she speaks calmly. Born in Surrey,  she qualified as a doctor at Leeds Medical School.

After spells in Bristol, Cornwall and London, she moved to Oxford in 1984 and  took up a post as consultant pathologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, where  we talked.

‘Once I came here I specialised in baby brains,’ she explains. ‘I have looked  at thousands and written more than 100 medical papers on normal brain  development and what happens when things go wrong both in pregnancy and after  birth. In the past 15 years, I have investigated many unexpected deaths.’

Her change of opinion was triggered ten years ago by pioneering work carried  out by Jennian Geddes, a former consultant neuropathologist at the Royal London  Hospital.

Geddes argued that, in a small number of cases, injuries associated with the  triad can occur naturally; that some babies suffer from a lack of oxygen supply  that triggers bleeding; and that there should be some signs that the baby  suffered trauma.

‘A light went on in my head,’ Dr Squier says.

‘I became concerned that the whole basis for shaking was poor.’

She began to conduct her own investigations and found similar evidence to  Geddes.

‘It made me feel guilty about my previous unquestioning acceptance of the  shaking hypothesis.

‘All my cases are now based on a newer understanding of the science. I am  happy with rigorous debate but take exception to attacks on my integrity and  professionalism. It is intellectual laziness to apply the old triad diagnosis  when symptoms can be explained by natural causes.’

Dr Squier has an impeccable professional reputation so she was shocked early  last year to receive a letter from the Human Tissue Authority, an organisation  which ensures that doctors keep good records and have consent for everything  they do.

‘The Metropolitan Police had raised concerns about the way I was handling  post-mortem tissue and the possibility that unrecorded material was being  stored, used and disposed of without the knowledge of the police. Fortunately,  our procedures at John Radcliffe are absolutely robust, we know where every  piece of tissue is, and no action was taken.

‘Then last June, I heard that a complaint on the same subject had been lodged  against me with the General Medical Council.’

Dr Squier had to face an interim orders panel, which was set up after the  conviction of Harold Shipman to protect the public and the profession from  dangerous doctors. Her appearance was requested by the National Policing  Improvement Agency and Detective Inspector Colin Welsh, lead investigator at  Scotland Yard’s child abuse investigation command.

‘I barely slept for six weeks,’ she says.

‘It was a terrible experience but the hearing had barely got under way when  it was dismissed and no restrictions were made on my practice.

‘However, the panel couldn’t remove the complaint lodged about me with the  GMC and I don’t know whether it will take it forward. It is hanging over me like  a dark cloud.

‘I know the GMC will not approve of me speaking out but too much is at stake  for me to stay silent.’

Unknown territory: Doctors are still learning how a  baby’s brain develops – and discoveries in just the last ten years have  ‘seriously undermined SBS’ according to Dr Squier

The accusations began to make sense following a conference on shaken babies,  which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, last September.

DI Welsh, in a public lecture, talked disparagingly about prosecution cases  that had failed largely due to expert defence witnesses.

He described a way of eliminating them from criminal and possibly family  court trials, thus precluding alternative views being presented. He believed  they confused the jury and possibly the judges with the complexity of science.

DI Welsh’s solutions included ‘questioning everything – qualifications,  employment history, testimony, research papers presented by these experts, go to  their bodies to see if we can turn up anything’.

Among the audience was lawyer Heather Kirkwood, who was so shocked that she  took notes and has signed an affidavit that these notes are a true record.

She says: ‘In the past decade, we have learned that much of what we thought  we knew about SBS was wrong, and that many of the babies that we thought were  shaken were instead suffering from birth injuries, childhood stroke, or  metabolic or infectious disease.

‘Now that we know we got it wrong, we need to get it right. Instead, many  prominent advocates of shaken baby theory have resorted to attacking researchers  such as Dr Squier, who is one of the world’s leading experts on the infant  brain.

‘Families and children deserve better. To get it right, we need open, honest  debate, not cover-ups or attacks on those identifying the problems and seeking  solutions.’

Dr Squier was outraged to learn of DI Welsh’s comments.

‘It proved in my mind that the police have set out to remove me and two other  neuropathologists who share the same view from the courts because we have stood  in the way of their campaign to improve conviction rates. If an expert witness  bases an opinion on reasonable scientific ground, even if the opinion is a  minority one, it should not be excluded.

‘I am determined not to be silenced and if I can’t speak out in court, I  shall do it in scientific papers. It cannot be fair to gag one body of opinion.  The whole thing is a nightmare, not least because instead of researching vital  things about babies, I have to spend time trying to clear my name.

‘Meanwhile, the number of court cases I have been asked to attend has  plummeted from 30 a year a few years ago to five in the past year.

‘Some lawyers are still willing to instruct me because they believe I will  give them an opinion based on the science. Others feel they can’t use me while  the complaint is hanging over me.

‘The experience has made me feel like a whistleblower – on the one hand  challenging all those who prefer the comfort of old mainstream opinion, and on  the other struggling for my professional life.’

DI Welsh was unavailable for comment, but Scotland Yard said in a statement: ‘The Metropolitan Police did register concerns about certain practices of a  doctor with the Human Tissue Authority in December 2009. The Metropolitan Police  also agreed to provide any relevant information to the GMC following a report  registered by the National Policing Improvement Agency with the GMC.’

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