Social worker at Patton psychiatric hospital charged with raping patients

Inmates in shadow outdoors at Patton State Hospital.
Inmates at Patton State Hospital in 2002.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A clinical social worker at one of California’s biggest mental health facilities has been charged with sexually assaulting multiple female patients over a four-year period, according to the San Bernardino district attorney’s office.

Christopher Lee Smart, a longtime social worker who saw patients daily at Patton state hospital, a psychiatric facility that provides treatment to those forensically and civilly committed by the courts, is charged with nine felonies. The 63-year-old Redlands resident is accused of five counts of rape of a person incapable of giving consent, two counts of oral copulation of an incompetent person, sexual penetration of an incompetent person and sexual battery of an institutionalized person.

Smart is accused of carrying out the assaults inside the massive state psychiatric facility in Patton in San Bernardino County. According to a criminal complaint, the abuse took place between October 2014 and Dec. 31, 2018.


Smart’s arrest Aug. 3 followed an extensive investigation by the Department of State Hospitals’ Office of Protective Services. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Aug. 4 and is being held in lieu of $2-million bail. He is slated to be back in a San Bernardino Superior courtroom Sept. 2 for a hearing.

He has been a licensed clinical social worker in California since 2011. The state barred Smart from practicing as a social worker Aug. 15 based on the criminal charges against him, a ban that will remain until the criminal proceedings are resolved.

Patton houses more than 1,500 patients including those incompetent to stand trial, those with mental disorders, and those found not guilty by reason of insanity. Nearly 2,400 staff work at the facility.

Anyone with additional information can contact the DSH-Patton Special Investigator’s Office at (909) 425-6846.