Rape case against ex-Canfield physician dismissed

By Peter H. Milliken



The case against a former Canfield physician charged with raping a female patient has been dismissed at the request of the prosecution.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Tuesday dismissed the case against Larry Lee Smith at the request of Natasha K. Frenchko, an assistant county prosecutor.

Frenchko asked for the dismissal because Smith’s Oct. 8, 2010, statement to Canfield police was ruled inadmissible in court.

On Feb. 1, a three-judge panel of the 7th District Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a ruling by visiting Judge Thomas J. Pokorny that the statement could not be used as evidence in a trial.

Smith, 73, was charged with raping the patient during an Oct. 4, 2010, office visit.

The appeals court said Judge Pokorny correctly determined that Smith’s “will was overborne and his capacity for self-determination was critically impaired due to coercive conduct by the police” during the secretly recorded interrogation.

Smith denied having sexual contact with his patient no fewer than five times, admitting such contact with the patient’s consent only after Detective Brian McGivern erroneously told him at least seven times he could legally engage in sexual activity with his patients, the appeals court noted.

When he appealed Judge Pokorny’s decision, Ralph M. Rivera, an assistant county prosecutor, said the prosecution had no reasonable chance of success in its case against Smith unless his statement to police was admissible in a trial.

“We believed that at the time. We still believe that,” said Rebecca Doherty, chief of the criminal division in the county prosecutor’s office, after Tuesday’s dismissal. “We cannot go forward with a trial” without the statement, she added.

Doherty also said she didn’t think the prosecution would have prevailed in an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Smith’s medical license was revoked by the Ohio State Medical Board on May 12, 2011.

That revocation was based on Smith’s misdemeanor conviction related to his personally furnishing a controlled substance to a patient and on the board’s finding that he engaged in sexual misconduct with two patients to whom he provided Subozone as a treatment for drug addiction.

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