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CAS Assesses Dead Boy

September 30, 2011 permalink

After the Canadian legal system drove disabled boy Mitchell Wilson to suicide, a letter arrived from children's aid saying the boy needed an assessment. Too late. How about an assessment of the system that drove him to suicide?



'Angel' deserves justice

Accused bully will still face day in court despite boy's death

Mitchell Wilson
The Toronto Sun broke the tragic story of Mitchell Wilson on Sept. 23.

OSHAWA, ONT. - Mitchell Wilson should be here.

The frightened 11-year-old with muscular dystrophy was scheduled to miss a day of school and come here, to this grey, imposing court house, to face the accused bully charged last November with slamming him into the ground and stealing his dad's iPhone.

But the disabled boy is not here. His grandmother Pam carries his photo in her hands, heartbreak in her chest. His sad-eyed dad Craig and stepmom Tiffany Usher, his friend Max, several supporters, a dozen media reporters -- we are all here.

While Mitchell is not.

His father went to wake him up for his first day of Grade 6 a few weeks ago only to discover his son had taken his own life. Just the day before, Mitchell was served with a subpoena to testify against 13-year-old J.S., his former schoolmate who turned the happy-go-lucky jokester into an anxious and suicidal child.

"It was a fearful day for him," his brave dad told reporters outside the courthouse. "It would have been a tough day for him to come and obviously he was so fearful, he did what he did."

But at least Mitchell will still have his day in court.

As we told you in our exclusive heartwrenching story last week, the boy's father was afraid the case would be dropped because his only son was no longer here to identify his assailant. And with no publicity about the case, there's little doubt that's what would have happened.

But thanks to the Toronto Sun story, which led to others done by other media outlets as well as an outpouring of support from the public, the justice system wouldn't dare let the youth's charges of assault and robbery simply be withdrawn. Instead, with a gallery of media taking down her every word, Ontario Court Justice Mary Teresa Devlin agreed to adjourn the case until Nov. 21 to give the Crown time to file an application to have Mitchell's written affidavit entered as evidence in place of his testimony.

"Mitchell's voice will still get heard," said his relieved dad. "I'm sure the judge has read the newspaper and was touched by the story. How could it not touch her?"

His son used to walk six times a day through his Pickering neighbourhood to prevent his body from further wasting from MD and it was during one of those walks that he was jumped by the older boy. With the mugger's friends bullying him, Mitchell severely curtailed his exercise, his mobility rapidly deteriorated to the point he would soon need a wheelchair and his depression grew until the poor child felt suicide was his only escape.

In his grief, Mitchell's eloquent dad is determined to tell Mitchell's story. "I can't do anything for my child anymore," he explained. "So let's hopefully save some other people's children so they don't have to go through this mess."

But he is angry that unlike the United States, where singer Lady Gaga and President Barak Obama have spoken out about the scourge of bullying, the problem here is often ignored. "Where are Canadian politicians today? " he demanded. "There's not one politician here to say, 'Hey Craig, we're going to change the laws so that there's not another Mitchell Wilson out there.' Not one."

For Pam Wilson, who clung tightly to the black and white portrait of her only grandson, it was a day haunted by the absence of her special boy. If only he had hung on, he would have seen that he was not alone and, hopefully, that his attacker would be punished.

"It isn't OK to beat up a little disabled kid and get away with it," she said, tears streaming down her face. "You can't do that. It just isn't right. And he had so much sadness, losing his mom and then being disabled. It wasn't right. And there are other kids out there that are suffering in the same way. "

But she believes Mitchell's legacy will be the awareness his death has brought to the problem of bullying.

"I feel like he touched us for awhile," she said. "He was an angel -- and now he's gone. And this angel has to do some work on this earth through us."


The boy accused of mugging disabled Mitchell Wilson is not the only child in the family in trouble with the law.

J.S.'s 17-year-old brother is now in prison, charged with an armed robbery at a Bell store in Aurora that left both the youth and a York Regional Police officer wounded.

The teen, his name protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and two other adult suspects from Pickering were arrested July 21 and charged with robbery with use of a firearm, theft over $5,000, forcible confinement, possession of weapons dangerous, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and disguise with intent.

On Wednesday, the Special Investigations Unit cleared the arresting officer for accidentally discharging his handgun during the takedown, which sent a bullet into his own forearm while fragments shattered the teen's jaw. The SIU said the 17-year-old suspect had ignored a police command to get down on the ground and the gun accidentally went off while he was trying to subdue him.

It makes Mitchell's family wonder what kind of parenting is going on in a home where one son is accused of armed robbery and the other of mugging a disabled boy.

"It probably isn't the kid, it's probably the parents looking after the kid," says Mitchell's father, Craig Wilson. "Why hasn't someone removed this child from their parents' care to make a difference in this kid's life?"

He also wonders if the Children's Aid Society is involved in their family as they are in his own. A letter from the CAS arrived in Wilson's mailbox just a day after Mitchell committed suicide saying they were being assessed.

There were no answers forthcoming from J.S.'s family Wednesday. No one answered the door at their Ontario Housing unit and no one appeared on his behalf in court except his lawyer.

"He's just a child," said Mitchell's grandmother, Pam Wilson. "We don't want to be vigilantes. I feel bad for the bully because the bully has missed out on so much in life and hasn't been loved or cared for."

Source: London Free Press