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July 11, 2010 permalink
There was a rally outside Manitoulin children's aid in Little Current. Canada Court Watch posted two pictures.
Addendum: Here is press coverage in the Midnorth Monitor.
Group wants more oversight of CAS
Seventeen years after being wrongfully convicted of murder in the death of his four-year-old niece, Valin Johnson, William Mullins-Johnson stands on the side of Highway 6 just south of Little Current with a placard that says "CAS needs oversight now."
Mullins-Johnson, now 39, was featured on the CTV newsmagazine W5 when his 1994 murder conviction, based heavily on the evidence provided by now-disgraced forensic pathologist, Charles Randal Smith, was overturned in 2007.
Released on bail in 2005 in advance of his October 2007 acquittal, the Batchewana Bay First Nation member spent 12 years in prison.
On Friday, July 9, he joined a group of about 10 people in a demonstration outside of the Little Current branch of the Children's Aid Society of the districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin. He said he attends similar events "as much as is humanly possible."
The demonstration was one of several the group staged across Northern Ontario last week led by an organization that wants the Ontario Ombudsman to be granted the power to oversee the province's 53 CAS agencies.
Mullins-Johnson, described by organizers as a special guest at the rally, said CAS was "instrumental in the unjustifiable conviction" that sent him to prison.
"CAS is too influential in court and people are too willing to believe them," Mullins-Johnson said. "It's a situation that's reaching crisis levels. Something has to be done. If it takes us doing this for the next few years, this is what we'll do."
The rally's organizer, Neil Haskett, said CAS needs oversight in order to protect children from dangerous foster care situations and innocent families from being torn apart. According to Haskett, 18 MPPs support more oversight for CAS in Ontario, including NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Frances Gelinas, Frank Klees, Howard Hampton, Frank Klees, Carol Mitchell and Sylvia Jones.
After almost two decades, Mullins-Johnson said torn apart is the best way to describe his family.
"My brother (and I are back together now like we should have been all these years," he said. "But my family has been shattered. They didn't want to believe that I was guilty, but after I was convicted what could they do?
"Even if you're found innocent in court, they'll keep you on this registry of abusers. I'm still on this national list that has no protocols and no governing body.
"In spite of my exoneration I know some people believe I did it. The court of public opinion is even worse than jail. Try getting a job with that reputation hanging over your head."
He said when she was six years old, another niece of his was brainwashed to believe her uncle is a killer.
"She's 23 now and she still hates me after 17 years. That's how deep this goes."
John Butts' daughter was taken away by children's aid in 2007; she was 14 at the time. He said she complained to CAS after he grounded her from a dance for not doing her chores.
Getting her back took 109 days, and bankrupted him.
"They use considerable resources to discredit someone," he said. "They cripple you financially and make you unable to defend yourself. And they continue to use taxpayer dollars to hide facts."
Butts founded FOCASD, Families Opposed to Children's Aid Society Deceit. He has the letters tattooed across the top of his right hand.
"We are not anti-CAS," he said. "We believe CAS is necessary, but we want the Ontario ombudsman to be able to oversee CAS financial decisions and to investigate complaints lodged against them."
As a reporter arrived on the scene, Butts had a megaphone pointed at the CAS office. Among other things, he was offering a $1,250 cash reward for any CAS worker willing to provide proof of "any criminal action by a CAS worker against an innocent Canadian family.
"This reward will continue to grow. Eventually one of your coworkers will be enticed to take it, and we'll have someone thrown in jail."
"Every day we contact more victims and every day we get closer to next year's (provincial) election. We are all too willing to vote against the Liberals in order to have the law changed."
Source: Midnorth Monitor