Sunday, October 24, 2010


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In view of the $4.25 million compensation William Mullins-Johnson that was announced on October 21, 2010 by the Ontario government, I am re-running some early posts relating to the case. The following post - published on October 21, 2007, ran under the heading, "Chronicle of an "inexorable" rush to judgment."

William Mullins-Mullins Johnson was the victim of an "inexorable rush to judgment" according to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The Court explains this conclusion as follows in written reasons for its decision to accept fresh evidence, quash Mullins-Johnson's conviction and enter an acquittal, released Friday.

"At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 27, 1993, Valin’s parents found their daughter lying dead on her bed," says the Court.

"Her body was taken to the Sault Ste. Marie General Hospital for an autopsy to be performed by Dr. Bhubendra Rasaiah. (See earlier postings: "Die Cast Against Mullins-Johnson Even Before Autopsy Began, Lawyer Charges" and "Conduct Of Other Experts Scrutinized by Mullins-Johnson's Lawyers.")

While the autopsy began at 12:55 p.m., the dissection of the body did not begin until 4:50 p.m.

However, well before Dr. Rasaiah began the dissection, he called Dr. Charles Smith of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and described his preliminary observations to him.

At around 2:50 p.m., Dr. Smith gave his opinion that Valin had been subjected to chronic abuse.

Dr. Rasaiah called in Dr. Patricia Zehr to attend the autopsy. (See earlier postings: "Die Cast Against Mullins-Johnson Even Before Autopsy Began, Lawyer Charges" and "Conduct Of Other Experts Scrutinized by Mullins-Johnson's Lawyers.")

Dr. Zehr was not a pathologist but rather a gynaecologist/obstetrician with expertise in child sexual abuse.

She observed the body and declared that this was one of the worst cases of child sexual abuse she had seen.

Events began to unfold very quickly thereafter.

Before the end of the post-mortem, Dr. Rasaiah told the police that he suspected Valin died between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. the previous evening and that death was due to homicidal asphyxiation.

These initial findings by Drs. Rasaiah, Smith and Zehr set in motion an inexorable rush to judgment that centred on Valin’s uncle, William Mullins-Johnson.

At 6:30 p.m., less than twelve hours after her parents had found Valin’s body, the police arrested Mr. Mullins-Johnson for first degree murder and aggravated sexual assault.

He was charged because he had been home, alone, baby-sitting Valin and her three-year-old brother John between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 26."

Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario's Chief Pathologist, told the appeal court that pathologists should withhold their findings as "pending" until the results of forensic test conducted on autopsy exhibits are in - rather than leaping to a premature conclusion which can lead to a wrongful arrest in a homicide investigation.

The Mullins-Johnson case is a classic example of the power that Dr. Charles Smith had amongst his deferential colleagues - the fact that they would call him for an opinion even before the autopsy had begun.

It is also an example of how the police can trigger miscarriage of justices by blindly accept the opinions of experts they hold in awe - like Dr. Charles Smith - rather than conducting a full investigation before laying a criminal charge.

That applies all the more to a charge of first-degree - the most serious offence in the Criminal Code.

Harold Levy;