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Dr. William Richard Vitale, Halifax Pediatrician, Faces Child Pornography Charges

02/26/2016 02:41 EST | Updated 02/26/2016 02:59 EST
Katrina Wittkamp via Getty Images
A female pediatrician listens to a three-year-old girl's lungs with a stethoscope.

HALIFAX — An elderly pediatrician is facing child pornography charges after a raid on a Halifax home Friday morning.

Halifax police said Dr. William Richard Vitale, 72, was arrested around 6:25 a.m. at a house in the 400 block of St. Margarets Bay Road where officers seized computer equipment.

Const. Dianne Woodworth said investigators don't believe the material allegedly seized involves any patients.

"It's not believed any of the children are local children who have been victimized. There's no indication at this point,'' Woodworth said.

The arrest followed a one-month investigation by the Internet Child Exploitation Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division, she said.

"It's not believed any of the children are local children who have been victimized."

Vitale, who has had a medical practice on Oxford Street, was scheduled to appear in Halifax provincial court Friday afternoon to face charges of making available, possessing and accessing child pornography.

Vitale had had a licence to practise medicine in Nova Scotia since 1983, but it is unclear if he is currently practising.

Vitale's licence previously suspended

In December 2013, health officials suspended Vitale's medical licence after he was accused of improperly mixing vaccinations for about 500 toddlers.

"It's an incredibly rare situation,'' Dr. Robin Taylor, medical officer of health for the Capital District Health Authority, told a 2013 news conference. "When vaccines that aren't meant to be mixed are mixed, it can compromise their effectiveness.''

Taylor said health authorities asked parents to have the patients re-vaccinated to protect them from a long list of preventable diseases, including measles, mumps, tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio and rubella.

Dr. Gus Grant, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, said at the time the young patients were supposed to get two or three separate vaccinations during each visit to their doctor, but they received only one mixed dose instead.

Grant said it appeared the doctor wanted to reduce the pain caused by multiple injections.

Taylor said the province's Public Health Department learned of a similar incident in 2006, when health officials accused Vitale of mixing vaccines for seven patients.

In May 2015, Vitale was reprimanded for prescribing medication for a family member while that relative was under the care of other health professionals. The college's investigations committee acknowledged "difficult personal factors,'' and that other treating health professionals were unavailable at the time.

— with files from Michael MacDonald

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