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Christopher Smart, a Patton State Hospital social worker accused of having sex with patients, was acquitted of two counts of sexual abuse April 9. The jury hung on the three remaining counts.

“Defense is certainly pleased with the not guilty verdicts. We are grateful to the jury for their time and careful deliberations. The final outcome of the case is yet to be determined given that the jury was hung on three counts, but we are optimistic that Mr. Smart will ultimately be vindicated,” defense counsel Tarek Shawky said April 9 by email.

The District Attorney’s Office has not yet responded to a request for comment.

It will be up to the District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to bring a new trial on the hung charges, Shawky said.

Smart was hired as a social worker at Patton State Hospital in 2007, according to prosecutor David Rabb. The psychiatric hospital, in San Bernardino where Route 330 breaks off from Route 210, is designed to treat criminal defendants with mental health issues.

Prosecutors accused Smart of having sex with four women incarcerated at the hospital, in exchange for phone access and treats. The investigation began after Amber, one of the alleged victims, sent a letter to another Patton inmate claiming she had sex with Smart.

In closing argument, Shawky argued that the letter was part of a scheme by Amber to extort money from Smart. The social worker had sent her $55 after she left the hospital, but had declared he would not send anymore.
One month after Smart cut her off, Amber sent the letter, with the words “Rip this up after!” written at the top. The letter was spotted by the mail inspectors.

 Shawky said the other alleged victim, Sandra, was getting back at Smart for not providing a copy of her father’s death certificate when asked.

The jury acquitted Smart of the allegations brought by Sandra: prosecutors had charged him with one felony count of oral copulation with an incompetent person and rape of a victim incapable of giving consent, both referring to the conduct Sandra alleged. She had claimed she was having sex with Smart on a daily basis during her two-month treatment.

The jury hung on the charges of felony rape with a person incapable of giving consent, sexual activity with a confined consenting adult and sexual battery, each allegedly with a different victim.

During closing argument, Rabb argued that the victim’s testimony alone was enough to convict Smart according to state law, but that the jury should have also been convinced by the circumstantial evidence of Smart’s continued interactions with the women after they left the hospital, and the presence of semen on his office bookshelf.

“The biggest manipulator here is Mr. Smart,” Rabb said. 

Smart had given the patients his personal phone number, bought a hotel room for one of them, visited them at a restaurant, and provided Amber with cash payments. The continued interactions were against Patton State Hospital rules, but in line with the ethics code for social workers, Shawky argued.

During closing argument, Shawky had argued that the alleged victims’ medically documented history of diagnosed mental disorders undercut their credibility.

Smart lost his job at the hospital, where his wife also worked, due to the allegations.

Read the testimony of fellow Patton employees here.

Read about the closing arguments here.

Case No. FSB22002150

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