Parents allege former family pathologist Dr David Williams cannot be trusted with the safety of their children after an allegation in a criminal case in which he provided biased evidence
Parents of three young children questioned by the Toronto police about allegations made in a recent trial of Ontario’s top pathologist have turned to the country’s public inquiry into medical misdeeds, alleging Dr David Williams cannot be trusted with the safety of their children.
In a letter to the office of public inquiry chairman Justice Brian Crowther, the parents say they want immediate answers on how Williams became involved in the case.
Since 2008, Williams has been one of three prominent Ontario pathologists on the roster for Toronto homicide investigations and forensic pathologists responsible for assisting with autopsies, when called upon by police. As recently as this year, Williams examined the body of the Toronto mayor, John Tory, and also assisted in the police investigation of Jian Ghomeshi after a sexual assault complaint was made.
Star witness Dr Williams closes testimony in Ghomeshi murder trial Read more
But on Wednesday, Williams was charged with possessing child pornography after Toronto police allegedly found a black folder with evidence he may have viewed pornography at his work computer and mobile phone.
Williams has denied the allegations and has been suspended pending the outcome of the charges.
However, law enforcement in Toronto have been under increasing pressure over their apparent insensitivity to children as young as three with the recent revelations and subsequent investigation into its handling of a 10-year-old rape and murder case.
Members of the Williams family attended the Ghomeshi trial, in which the former CBC radio host was acquitted on all charges, and told police on the stand in Toronto this summer that he routinely sent them text messages and emails seeking information about children in 2014 after they learned of allegations against the popular personality.
According to testimony at the inquiry, Williams also testified to obtaining notes related to the findings of his youngest son’s autopsy prior to the results being released to the public. The publication ban on the child’s autopsy was lifted on Thursday.
Professors in the field – including a toxicologist at the Ontario pathologist’s college – have gone public with their concern, saying cases may have been compromised or even murdered in the months after the advent of Williams’s forensic autopsy reviews.
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“In spite of Dr Williams’s experience and expertise, we have serious concerns about how he investigated these cases and the concerns we have had about his work have been raised during our lengthy process,” read the letter to Crowther’s office.
“We are unsure who’s exercising oversight over Dr Williams’s relationship with the Toronto police, Toronto Fire and other professionals who are involved in investigating these tragic deaths. We also question why – in light of his history of alleged concerns about child and youth deaths – Dr Williams was not removed from working cases this year.”
The letter also concerns concerns about the use of translators for the families of children who died of suspected overdoses, procedures reportedly not sufficiently scrutinized in the earlier homicide investigation of Ghomeshi.
The Toronto local branch of the families also complain that at every level of the legal process they have been shut out, with prosecutors forced to rely on information gathered by police in their investigations.
Crowther has led the inquiry since the spring, receiving 200 witnesses, obtaining more than a million pages of documents and visiting 40 medical institutions across the city.