Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Justice denied for innocent cop

with 7 comments

The case of former RCMP Constable John Hudak is more than a little troubling.

Hudak’s story, called Branded for Life was told on CTV’s  W5 . Hudak was a small-town cop, a Mountie involved in his community who was accused of sexual assault by a local nurse, Mildred Johnson, 58.

By all accounts it would appear as though the investigation was botched early on and in reality, it should have clearly determined that the complainant was either wrong, or more accurately, deliberate in a false accusation of a man who had spurned her attentions.

Hell hath no fury and all that, but this case literally screams out that the man in this case is clearly not the predator and the woman clearly is. Unfortunately, all too often the system is too politically correct to get its head around that concept.

Any allegation of a sex assault should be treated seriously. But, as any investigator of sex crimes will tell you, the majority of complaints they get are unfounded or vindictive. That’s not a popular statement but it is very accurate.

As much as the ultra-feminist movement would have us believe that men are evil predators, the reality is that women are by far and away, more dangerous in the way they use the public perception to gain either an advantage or vengeance.

While this certainly doesn’t pretend that some men aren’t sexual predators, it also doesn’t automatically assume the woman making the complaint is telling the truth. In point of fact, as I said, the majority of complaints made to police are either unfounded or untruthful.

And that is what is truly puzzling about the Hudak case. The woman involved has a history of making unfounded allegations of this nature. Yet the RCMP apparently never checked the woman’s background. Why not?

Equally, DNA evidence seized form Johnson’s couch proved to be a mixed sample and the male portion was not from Hudak. And, in the course of the investigation, Hudak took a polygraph which concluded that he was telling the truth.

Hudak’s detachment commander protested in vain to the Mountie brass that they were prosecuting an innocent man. Yet, the prosecution soldiered on.

Hudak was ultimately acquitted in a courtroom he should have never been in except as a witness in the mischief case against Mildred Johnson, a prosecution that will likely never occur.

But Hudak will always have the label ‘sex offender” attached to him even though he was acquitted.  Once accused of that sort of crime, the stigma is always there.

Why was Hudak charged when there was essentially no evidence against him and a mountain of evidence to indicate Mildred Johnson was fabricating the allegation?

Most likely it was simply because he was a cop. And this is something that has always bothered me.

It is true that the police must be held to a higher standard and as such, they must be purer than Caesar’s wife.  But, they should also not subject to a prosecution when the evidence doesn’t support it.

It takes balls for a police chief or other senior police management to stand up and back their members publicly when it is the right thing to do. And I’m not talking about covering up inappropriate behaviour as we have seen more often than I’d care to admit.

No, I’m talking about doing the right thing when it is appropriate. And it is just that testicular fortitude that was missing in the senior management of the RCMP in the Hudak case.

Leo Knight
leo@primetimecrime.com

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Written by Leo Knight

March 19, 2006 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

7 Responses

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  1. The biggest problem with our complaint process – regardless of which service – is that the police police themselves. Like numerous other cases out there had the investigators not been police officers a better, more independant investigation would have been completed. My heart goes out to John Hudak – he did not deserve what the RCMP gave him. I do hope that he gets every cent of the 5 million he is sueing for! Maybe some “expensive lessons” will help to revamp the process.

    Nancy Killian Constant

    Anonymous

    March 22, 2006 at 1:39 pm

  2. I disagree with the previous comment. The problem is NOT that “the police police themselves”, a lament usually made by those who accuse the police of always covering up for their officers. (In fact, in most jurisdictions there is civilian oversight of the complaints process that complainants can appeal to, such as OCCPS in Ontario.) The SIU in Ontario, a civilian oversight body, has a history of botched prosecutions against officers just as outrageous as the case of John Hudak.

    The problem rather is the lack of fortitude by the investigators (police or civilian) in sticking to the facts and resisting the perceived political pressure to charge police officers.

    Often, police management are happy to have an officer charged (criminally or under the Police Act) just so they can say “we’re accountable”…even if there’s no reasonable & probable grounds of an offence. This is a huge problem from the point of view of current front line officers, and a police chief willing to stand up for his officers when it’s the right thing to do would indeed be a refreshing change.

    Anonymous

    March 22, 2006 at 6:50 pm

  3. I do agree that a chief with a little fortitude would be a wonderful thing – but I still maintain that the biggest part of the problem lies in the fact that the police police themselves. I do not believe that civilian investigators would be AS prone to bend to the politics of the service in a manner that serving member might be. As for the civilian oversight bodies, well I personally take little comfort in thier oversight. Most of the civilian oversight bodies must depend on the service to supply reports and investigative results to the civilian monitors – the complaint monitors. As they are now called here in Calgary – the public complaints director – does not play an active role in the investigation of complaints but does simply rely on the service to supply investigative results. If the service does not reveal accurate or appropriate results, well how would the director even know? In my opinion the oversight is too minimal. Personally I think that the entire complaint process should be revamped starting with the amount of authority given to the chief for dealing with complaints . . .

    Nancy Killian Constant

    Anonymous

    March 24, 2006 at 3:23 pm

  4. “Most of the civilian oversight bodies must depend on the service to supply reports and investigative results to the civilian monitors”

    So what will change if all complaints are handled by civilians from the get go? They’ll still get the same evidence and disclosure: copies of officer’s memo books, statements, radio and MDT transmissions….

    It’s ironic that some members of the public think that police investigating complaints against “their own” will result in cover ups; given that most front line officers feel that these days, police departments are going out of their way in charging officers. That was certainly the case in Hudak’s case.

    The advantage that was supposed to occur with experienced officers investigating complaints is that with their experience, it would be easier for them to filter out those complaints that are vexatious and frivalous in nature – which is certainly what the majority of complaints are. That’s not the same thing as “covering things up”. To the contrary, it’s revealing the truth about the nature of a complaint.

    But given the enthusiam of police professional standards units to go after their own these days, I don’t think it will make any difference anymore whether everything’s investigated by civilians or police.

    Anonymous

    March 26, 2006 at 8:29 pm

  5. Once again, we see another fine example of abuse of process on the part of a Crown prosecutor and RCMP management.

    We saw a few months ago an RCMP Superintendent and inspector do a class A hatchet job on Ken Smith. Are the horsemen doing anything about it other than cover their tracks? Nope. Nothing. Just obstructing justice as usual.

    a year ago, we also saw how the RCMP’s current agenda of “we can do more with less; anything with nothing” cost 4 RCMP members their lives in Mayerthorpe. Another fine example of how the Crown and RCMP management dropped the ball on James Roszko, when they could have put him in jail a long time ago. Instead, they persecute their own.

    The Crown Prosecutor in the Hudak case should be immediately disbarred and stripped of his legal credentials. The RCMP investigators need to be hammered for the gross abuse of process and neglect of duty they committed.

    The RCMP as a whole needs to be restructured in a major way, particularly in their upper management. There seems to be a culture of corruption stemming from the top-down and it is costing good mounties their careers (Ken Smith, John Hudak) and their lives (the Mayerthorpe 4). Enough is enough. Zaccardelli needs to go, as do a lot of other slime and incompetents.

    Anonymous

    April 6, 2006 at 5:16 am

  6. I hadn’t heard about Ken Smith until I saw that last post, and then did a google search. Unbelievable, if the media reports are true…what the hell, is this the RCMP or some 3rd world “police agency”???

    Only successful law suits will motivate them to change…but we all know how difficult, long & expensive that proposition is in Canada.

    Anonymous

    April 12, 2006 at 2:21 pm

  7. FRASER REPORT SLAMS RCMP:

    Have a good look at the latest Fraser report on the problems within the RCMP and their inability to do the job or ‘do the right thing’ on an ethical basis.

    The report basically says that the RCMP needs to get out of Provincial contract policing. It also gives examples of how the RCMP executive was linked to the Gomery scandal and other forms of corruption.

    If the Auditor General of Canada and Frsaer Institute’s extensively documented research say that we as Canadians can no longer trust the Mounties, then we are in a heap of trouble! We have seen good cops like Robert Read, Bob Stenhouse, John Hudak and Ken Smith get crucified by their own organization for acting in the public interest and being targetted by a vendetta-driven internal process; yet we have an upper echelon in the RCMP that appears to act in an indecent, immoral and sometimes illegal manner -with seemingly absolute impunity and zero conscience. All in the name of politics.

    Whats even worse, the Solicitor General of Alberta is offering to renegotiate a new contract for Provincial policing with the RCMP. This, despite the agenda for the formation of an Alberta Provincial Police force; which the Sol Gen so studiously presented plans for. Have these plans now been squashed? Despite the evidence showing the inadequacies of the RCMP performance?

    Unless the Prime Minister of Canada and/or other recognizable authority takes some specific, direct steps to hold those in charge of the RCMP fully accountable for their actions and those of their direct management subordinates (dirt-bags like Louis Lefevbre and Dennis Krill, that did the slam-jobs on John Hudak and Ken Smith), we will never see or hear the end of these problems, and the Canadian taxpayer will end up holding the financial bag for “errors” for years to come. This is unacceptable.

    Lugerman

    Anonymous

    April 13, 2006 at 10:53 pm


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