Doctor gets 52-year term
CRIME: The Riverside physician molested a boy and fled to Guatemala during the trial.

RIVERSIDE - A Riverside physician who was caught in Guatemala after skipping bail during his trial was sentenced Wednesday to 52 years in state prison for molesting a 10-year-old boy.

Jeffrey Alan Smith, a former San Bernardino County jail doctor, was free on $1 million bond in January when he fled the country after the victim testified. Smith, 58, was traced to a small village outside Guatemala City in late February.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Patrick Magers rejected Smith's claim of innocence and imposed the maximum sentence. Smith is related to the victim.

Smith's family members reported the sexual abuse in February 2001, and the victim told police and social workers that it had been going on for several years.

Police searched Smith's residence and found sexual devices, fetish-related catalogs, pornographic books and child pornography stories on his computer.

In his absence, a jury spent little more than an hour deciding to convict Smith of 23 felony counts of lewd acts with a child younger than age 14.

In a pre-sentence report, Smith denied his guilt and told a probation officer that he had fled the country after the victim testified "because he could see how the false testimony would hurt him."

Smith also said in the report that he did not feel his lawyer was handling his defense properly.

What authorities called molestations were medical procedures, including enemas and rectal exams, Smith said in the report. He attributed the online child pornography to hackers or his older children.

But Smith's wife, an adult son and adult daughter all agreed that he is dangerous and needs therapy for mental illness, according to their statements in the pre-sentence report.

"He does not accept responsibility and voiced absolutely no concern for the emotional or physical well-being of (the victim)," Deputy Probation Officer Lina Soccio said in the report.

Smith was licensed to practice medicine in California in 1983 and had worked out of his Riverside home for the past five years.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Spira said Smith dealt mostly with elderly patients, not children, in his practice.

Smith also worked for the California Forensic Medical Group as a jail doctor in San Bernardino County and was a doctor in Montana.

The Medical Board of California has taken steps to revoke Smith's license.

[ April 18, 2002: Message edited by: Tinfoil ]

[ April 21, 2002: Message edited by: nomsv ]