Crimes against the body
Causing harm
in Medical misadventure in an age of professionalisation, 1780–1890
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The proverbial Hippocratic injunction that medical practitioners must 'do no harm' makes accusations against doctors of crimes against the body particularly problematic. This chapter focuses on the occurrence and reporting of violent crime by medical men, specifically serious sexual assault and murder, where the latter includes all cases of suspected intentional, malicious killing rather than instances of incompetent treatment. It presents a case study of James Cockburn Belaney. The case of James Cockburn Belaney arguably went some way to create the discourse later satisfied by William Palmer as referent. It demonstrates that an acquittal in the 1840s was not necessarily sufficient to reassure a sceptical public that had already become convinced of a practitioner's guilt. Alfred William Warder's treatment by public opinion and the press in 1866 confirms in addition that the absence of a trial by jury was no protection against condemnation.

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