DR. RORICK BENNETT DEFENDS HER HUSBAND
SHE CALLS IT A PERSECUTION
Wife of the Detroit Doctor Charged With Being Responsible for the Death of Alita Richards is Interviewed – Does Not Fear the Outcome of the Trial Here.
Dr. Rorick Bennett, wife of Dr. C.T. Bennett, charged with the murder of Miss Alita Richards in this city, has been interviewed by a Detroit evening paper, which contains the following account of the interview:
” ‘It is a persecution, due to professional jealousy on the part of Grand Rapids hospitals,’ ” said the wife of Dr. Charles Tanner Bennett, referring to the prosecution of her husband, charged with causing the death of Miss Alita Richards by malpractice.”
” ‘They saw their opportunity to cause him trouble for taking patients and money away from him, and seized upon it.’
“Mrs. Bennett did not seem at all alarmed about the outcome of the case against her husband. She sat composed in a deeply cushioned chair, her handsome face, black hair and flashing dark eyes standing out in bold relief against the mass of carnations that overflowed the jardinière behind her. The atmosphere of the spacious parlors, three of them, opening one into the other, was sweet with the perfume of flowers. The carpets were soft to luxuriousness, the hangings rich and heavy, the furniture costly and well selected. The whole was a blending of effects in excellent taste and harmony.
“Mrs. Bennett’s composure may have been but the natural comportment of a well-bred woman, or it may have been that she is a physician herself, and trained to composure. She is a member of the Eclectic School of Medicine, and her professional names is Dr. Rorick Bennett. Anyhow, though she had not heard of the finding that her husband caused the death of Alita Richards “by administering to her chloroform wrongfully, negligently and unprofessionally,” she exhibited no surprise nor emotion upon learning of the fact; nor any gratification upon receiving the information that her husband hoped to be released from prison upon bail on Thursday.
Should Be an Expert
” ‘Dr. Bennett,’ she said, ‘has been administering chloroform during 28 years of country practice, with no ill results or results. He graduated in ’71 or ’72 from the school of regular physicians at the University of Michigan, and for 10 years has been living in Detroit, constantly attending to a large practice. The testimony of the Grand Rapids physicians that he administered the chloroform while the young lady patient was improperly confined in corsets or stays is contradicted by the testimony of the nurse present. Anyway, he may have told the young lady to loosen her stays before the operation, and she may have failed to notify him that she had not. An examination of the young girl after death showed a pleural adhesion of the lungs to the chest, but no physician could be aware of that unless the adhesion were so great as to include parts of the lungs. The entire case against him is very thin. Besides, he had given the patient chloroform before without ill effects. The cause of her death was undoubtedly due to some temporary physical condition at the time the chloroform was administered, of which the physician could not be aware.’
“Mrs. Bennett’s tone and attitude were always professional. It was so oddly analytical that it gave rise to an idle wonder if she would so professionally discuss and analyse with her husband during the last moments of his life any disease that laid him on his deathbed.
She Was Bored
“Mrs. Bennett seemed politely bored at this point, and it was only with reluctance that she could be induced to give a few facts regarding her husband his practice. He was born in New York state, just where she did not know. He was 57 years of age, but when he married, she said, was immaterial. He went from Adrian college to the state university at Ann Arbor, and upon graduation went to Morenci, where he practiced many years. His professional career has been that of an advertising physician, who traveled from town to town throughout the state, advertising his arrival in local papers and receiving patients at his rooms in the hotel. He published pamphlets of his method of treatment and was always accompanied by more or less Dr. Bennett literature. [sic] Of late years he has largely given up his advertising methods and made Detroit his headquarters, spending three days every week here and the remainder of the week on the road, stopping at such cities as Adrian, Coldwater, Jackson, Bay City, Grand Rapids, Lansing, etc.
” ‘Treating his regular patients,’ added Mrs. Bennett. Then coldly: ‘If you make any inquiries regarding him from any of his patients I think you will be satisfied as to his standing as a physician.’
“Mrs. Bennett does not fear the outcome of the trial of her husband. Whatever the result, whether he proved a competent or incompetent physician, whether he is criminally responsible for the death of Alita Richards, or treated her in an unprofessional way, one thing is certain, the doctor has a most handsome and elegantly appointed home upon one of the most fashionable of Detroit’s streets, and has made, apparently, a most astounding financial success in medical practice, even if he is one of the profession’s abhorred ‘advertising and traveling doctors.’ ”
Source: Grand Rapids Herald, June 29, 1899.