Questions remain over how a doctor assessed 45-year-old man allegedly found with extreme deformation of genitals
Questions remain over how a doctor assessed a 45-year-old man allegedly found with extreme deformation of genitals in a passing train tunnel in Ontario – a shocking development that has unleashed what has amounted to an international call for transparency in the investigation.
The victim, who was on vacation in the Canadian province at the time of the alleged attack, was rushed to a hospital after officials discovered the mangled man in a tunnel under the St Lawrence river and was later airlifted to a Toronto-area trauma centre.
Authorities have identified the alleged attacker only as a Caucasian male between 40 and 50. The man, according to local media, is being treated for severe emotional trauma but is not currently in a coma.
Television reports suggest that the man has serious injuries to his genitals, but the exact nature of the injuries is unclear.
On Tuesday, investigators from the highway traffic safety division examined the tunnel, which has been reopened, in an attempt to determine how the man came to be there and investigators working on the case have seized seven vehicles from the hunt for the attacker.
But questions remain about how the investigation was handled and how long the victim had been there before being found by a train passenger.
The case has called to mind an infamous incident in 2009, when a crime involving what appeared to be genital mutilation on a Toronto immigrant triggered an international outpouring of anger and continued cries for justice.
In that case, alleged offenders, including a popular Toronto sports radio personality, Tommy Smyth, were charged with aggravated assault in the attack but the judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to link the attack to a religious practice, known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
In the Ontario case, a retired pathologist – Dr Lynn Harrington – visited the suspect who was later arrested. Harrington had been commissioned by the Toronto police in 2009 to perform an autopsy on the victim in the FGM case and had offered to assist with the tunnel case. But, according to the Globe and Mail, he failed to tell the police that he was assisting the prosecution of Smyth.
Harrington, who died last year, was in a position to provide information to the courts. When contacted by the Guardian, the TPS said they had not investigated the case and insisted Harrington was not a police officer.
“What we know is that it was a volunteer effort,” said Mark Pugash, a spokesman for the Ontario police.
Since being named as the suspect last month, the man’s identity has been sought.
According to reports, the man confessed to the crime to a friend in a southern Ontario town.
Local police confirmed they knew he had been staying at a sleepover with friends but it was not clear whether he was known to authorities. The man had served time in a federal penitentiary for numerous drug-related charges.