Home » Senior navy commander below investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting subordinate

Senior navy commander below investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting subordinate

by newsking24

WARNING: This story incorporates graphic content material and may very well be distressing to some.

The navy’s head of personnel — one of many extra outstanding leaders within the Canadian Armed Forces — is on indefinite go away with pay as he faces a navy police investigation over an allegation of rape that dates again nearly three a long time.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service opened a file on Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson after CBC News notified the Department of National Defence (DND) that it was about to launch a narrative that includes on-the-record remarks by the lady concerned.

The allegations towards Edmundson are probably the most severe to be levelled just lately towards a senior chief within the Forces.

Stéphanie Viau named Hayden Edmundson and detailed the sexual assault allegations towards him in her declare for the CAF-DND sexual misconduct class motion settlement. CBC News reviewed a duplicate of her declare, which was dated July 22, 2020. (Andrew Lee/CBC News)

Former navy member Stéphanie Viau stated she was a 19-year-old steward within the navy when Edmundson, a superior and lieutenant commander in 1991, began exposing his genitals to her onboard a navy ship deployed to the Pacific Ocean for an train.

Viau stated she yelled at Edmundson and advised him it was unacceptable behaviour. Days later, she stated, the misconduct escalated and Edmundson sexually assaulted her onboard HMCS Provider in early November, 1991 whereas the ship was docked in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.

“He wouldn’t let me go,” Viau advised CBC News. “I can’t say that it was a violent situation, but he sort of pushed me to the wall and he started undressing me.

“Then he turned me round and he raped me. There’s no different technique to say it … My physique simply froze. I did not know what to do. I used to be terrified.”

Viau said she didn’t report the assault at the time because she was afraid to speak up against the third-highest ranking officer on the ship. She described a pervasive culture of silence surrounding sexual misconduct, a lack of support from the chain of command and fear of career reprisals.

WATCH | Stéphanie Viau shares her story of alleged sexual assault:

Viau said Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson’s inappropriate behaviour escalated to rape onboard HMCS Provider decades ago 9:17

Edmundson denies the allegations

Viau said she is sharing her story publicly for the first time in an effort to heal. She said she now wants an independent investigation and charges laid.

I categorically deny that I have ever had non-consensual sex with anyone…ever– Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson

DND told CBC News today that Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, the acting chief of the defence staff, has referred the matter to military police. 

“The Canadian Armed Forces are very troubled by these allegations and, above else, are concerned for the well-being of the victim who has been carrying this burden for 30 years,” wrote the department in a statement.

Edmundson denies the allegations.

“I categorically deny that I have ever had non-consensual sex with anyone … ever,” wrote Edmundson in a statement sent to CBC News.

CBC News contacted Edmundson Tuesday afternoon and asked him to reply Wednesday afternoon to a detailed 12-point list of the allegations, including the location and timeframe for the claims. Edmundson said he was not provided with “sufficient particulars” and the “time necessary to respond to the allegations in any detail whatsoever.”

DND said Edmundson “will be on leave until further notice.”

A ‘systemic’ problem

Viau’s allegations add to a pattern of claims of inappropriate behaviour involving Edmundson already reported by CBC News earlier this month — a pattern that does not seem to have affected his career arc.

Naval colleagues gave Edmundson the nickname “Mulligan man” in the late 1990s because a military investigation into claims of unwanted sexual comments, predatory behaviour and inappropriate relationships with subordinates under his chain of command cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Sources described the probe as flawed since not all witnesses and complainants were interviewed.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office said it asked Eyre to look into the claims involving Edmundson after CBC News’ first story.

DND confirmed that Edmundson took leave after CBC’s first story was published but his job status did not change. Edmundson retained the title of commander of Military Personnel Command, which gives him authority over career consequences for sexual misconduct cases.

WATCH | Military’s human resources commander was investigated for inappropriate behaviour:

CBC News has learned the commander in charge of human resources for the Armed Forces was investigated for allegations of inappropriate behaviour in the 1990s. The discovery comes as the Canadian military has two senior officers facing allegations of sexual misconduct. 1:59

Megan MacKenzie, the Simons Chair in International Law and Human Security at Simon Fraser University, said Edmundson’s case shows the military does not have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual assault in the ranks.

She said Edmundson should have been asked to step aside temporarily until the allegations were properly investigated.

“It’s simply such an indication of the systemic nature of this drawback,” said MacKenzie, who is part of an international project focused on sexual assault in the military.

“I feel it is so disappointing and it weakens the declare that that is being taken significantly.”

Sajjan’s office said Eyre “has been dealing with the matter instantly” in cooperation with military police and military personnel and noted that Edmundson is on leave “and never at the moment serving in his position of Military Personnel Command.”

In a media statement, the minister’s office said it was made aware of the sexual assault allegations yesterday and has asked officials to provide Viau support. That support, said Sajjan’s spokesperson Todd Lane, “contains aiding her to acquire the suitable police investigation that she requests.”

Edmundson named in class-action application

Last year, Viau named Edmundson as one of her alleged abusers in her application to join the military’s sexual misconduct class action settlement, according to documents viewed by CBC News.

Viau claimed she was also sexually assaulted by two other superiors during her first two years in the military before the alleged incident involving Edmundson. Her class-action claim is currently under review.

“How ironic that HE was positioned in such a place,” Viau wrote about Edmundson in the claim dated July 22, 2020. “We won’t be able to repair this tolerated sexual misconduct tradition with the identical people who nourished it.”

Viau wrote in her application that there was an underlying culture of misogyny onboard HMCS Provider in the early 1990s. She described male colleagues playing pornographic videos in the lounge of the ship, men walking in on her while she was showering, and men frequently making unwanted sexual comments about her appearance.

Stéphanie Viau (front centre) is seen here with stewards onboard HMCS Provider in 1991. (HMCS Provider’s ZAUS SOLPLOY 1991 cruise book)

She said one of her responsibilities on board was to quietly wake up officers for duty without disturbing roommates or turning on bright lights (to avoid compromising their night vision).

Viau said when the ship was at sea during an exercise called “NZAUS SOPLOY” from Sept. 4 to Nov. 20, 1991, Edmundson started sleeping naked and exposing more and more of his body to her. Viau said she also believes he pretended to be asleep at times so that she’d have to spend longer trying to wake him.

“The final time he did that, I went to wake him up and he was on his again utterly bare,” said Viau. “And he was ready for me. I used to be so indignant.

“I just flashed the white lights and I started yelling, ‘I can’t take this any longer. I can’t believe this is what I have to do for work. I mean, this is unacceptable.’ And I just burst out.'”

Days later, Viau stated, when the ship was docked in Hawaii, she went searching for one other member’s glasses on the entrance of the ship so they may go to Waikiki Beach.

‘I did not know how one can get out of that state of affairs’

Viau stated Edmundson noticed her and requested to talk to her in his cabin. Viau stated she assumed he was going to apologize for exposing himself — however when she entered his room, the lights have been off and she or he instantly felt uncomfortable.

“I was extremely nervous and I didn’t know how to get out of that situation, and I thought to myself, ‘Just apologize and get the hell out,'” Viau stated.

Viau alleges she advised Edmundson her mates have been ready and she or he needed to go away, however he “penetrated me against my will,” based on a duplicate of her class-action declare.

CBC News interviewed a person who confirmed that Viau went lacking throughout the time of the alleged assault.

Haydn Edmundson (centre), a lieutenant commander on the time, is seen right here with the fight division onboard HMCS Provider in 1991. (HMCS Provider’s ZAUS SOLPLOY 1991 cruise e-book)

“I do remember going to look for her and I remember calling her name,” stated the lady, who requested to not be named as a result of she fears it may undermine her profession.

Viau stated that whereas Edmundson was sexually assaulting her, she tried to name again to her good friend, however Edmundson put his hand over her mouth.

Viau stated she was later reprimanded by the chain of command and given a recorded warning in her file for talking French aboard ship somewhat than English.

Viau stated she was advised to be on her finest behaviour for the following six months and was warned that she confronted dismissal from the Canadian Forces. She stated she wasn’t given any prior verbal warning and believes it was an try to maintain her quiet.

Two different members who served with Viau again up claims

Edmundson is simply one of many navy members named in Viau’s 10-page class-action declare. The doc incorporates a sequence of sexual assault allegations starting from inappropriate feedback to being compelled to mannequin bathing fits on stage to nonconsensual intercourse with superiors throughout Viau’s profession within the Forces between 1989 and 1997. 

Viau alleged that she woke as much as a grasp corporal sexually assaulting her in her barracks cubicle in Feb. 1990 throughout primary coaching at Saint-Jean Garrison in Quebec. Viau additionally alleges her direct supervisor with the navy police raped her on the Connaught navy vary in Ottawa when she was on non permanent obligation there in the summertime of 1990.

Veterans Affairs Canada authorised her declare for incapacity funds for post-traumatic stress dysfunction on Nov. 23, 2020, based on authorities paperwork considered by CBC News. Viau stated her trauma is related to the sexual assaults.

WATCH | ‘She had no person’: Woman who served on ship in 1991 stated Stéphanie Viau could not have reported alleged sexual assault:

A girl who served on HMCS Provider in 1991 — and who requested to maintain her id secret — stated the chain of command would not have taken Viau’s sexual assault criticism significantly in 1991. 1:25

CBC News additionally reviewed Viau’s employment historical past, personnel file and certificates of service, all of which confirmed her timeline of occasions.

A replica of a “cruise book” from NZAUS SOPLOY considered by CBC News additionally incorporates a sequence of photographs inserting Viau and Edmundson on that ship throughout the related interval of time, and verifies the dates and routes Viau detailed in her allegations.

CBC News interviewed two individuals who served with Viau who corroborated a lot of her story; CBC has agreed to maintain their names confidential as a result of they worry injury to their careers. They each stated that, primarily based on all the pieces they know, they believed Viau’s model of occasions.

‘She had no person’

They each additionally stated the navy tradition on the time wouldn’t have supported Viau reporting the alleged sexual assault. One stated the chain of command would have brushed it off.

“She had nobody that she could trust to talk about it, or to make a complaint,” stated one of many people who served with Viau at sea in 1991. “She had nobody. I think that was the biggest struggle back then — you couldn’t trust anybody.”

A second one that served with Viau and was advised concerning the alleged sexual assault final yr stated it took “a lot of bravery and courage” for her to go public.

“For her to expose herself and her family to this, it’s huge. Based on that and her integrity, there’s no chance that there’s a hole in this.”

Both people advised CBC News in addition they have been sexually assaulted throughout their time within the navy. One stated she didn’t report it due to the prevailing tradition within the Canadian Forces on the time. She additionally stated her alleged attacker unfold rumours main others to publicly mock and humiliate her.

Viau calls on PM to order unbiased investigation 

Viau stated she desires Edmundson charged with sexual assault.

There isn’t any time limitation on sexual assault reviews, stated retired colonel and navy legislation knowledgeable Michel Drapeau, including {that a} sufferer can come ahead and report the crime a long time after it occurred.

I need justice for me. But I additionally need justice for others.– Stéphanie Viau

It could be the navy’s accountability to research, he stated, for the reason that incident is alleged to have occurred aboard a navy ship.

But Viau stated she desires an unbiased investigation as a result of she does not belief the navy to correctly examine and prosecute her case. The navy has its personal police and normally handles sexual assault prices via its separate justice system.

CBC News’ The Fifth Estate reported this month {that a} former navy police investigator stated the navy’s judicial system is “ill-equipped” to deal with such crimes. The former investigator stated he handled commanding officers interfering with sexual assault circumstances, and prosecutors who have been reluctant to maneuver ahead with prices.

Statistics from 2014-2017 present that sexual assault conviction charges within the navy have been effectively beneath these in the civilian justice system.

Viau stated she has no religion within the navy’s skill to conduct an investigation partially as a result of she alleges a navy police officer sexually assaulted her prior to now.

She’s now calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for assist. 

“I’m asking Justin Trudeau to change that so that it makes it possible for people like me to disclose and also to seek justice,” stated Viau.

“I want justice for me. But I also want justice for others.”

Stéphanie Viau wrote in her class motion declare that she was sexually assaulted by three superiors throughout her first years within the navy from 1989 to 1991. (Andrew Lee/CBC News)

After the navy investigates, it has the choice to put prices in civilian court docket if the sufferer requests it, stated Drapeau. 

In a media assertion, the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t remark particularly on the case. The PMO stated that Prime Minister Trudeau has said that those that serve within the navy should have a “safe work environment and have the resources and the supports needed to come forward with any concerns or allegations.” 

“As the Prime Minister and Minister Sajjan have said, we will continue to move forward on measures to ensure that we are not only giving those supports to people who come forward, but also ensuring that we’re putting in place independent mechanisms to put an end to these deeply troubling allegations and this behaviour once and for all,” wrote Alex Wellstead, a spokesperson for the PMO.

Give navy sexual assault circumstances again to civilian courts: Drapeau

Decades in the past, the civilian justice system dealt with sexual assault circumstances involving navy members. But in 1998, the Department of National Defence requested for a change to the National Defence Act to take away sexual assault from the listing of great crimes that fall exterior of the navy’s jurisdiction, stated Drapeau.

Overnight, he stated, navy police and tribunals have been put in command of these circumstances with none prior expertise. 

“I have long argued that jurisdiction for sexual assaults should be returned to civilian police and the civilian criminal court,” stated Drapeau.

Mackenzie agreed the navy will not be outfitted to take care of sexual assault allegations “well,” particularly relating to high-ranking officers. The system is constructed on the idea that high-ranking members will not commit misconduct, she stated — and the present disaster in the navy exhibits that is not the case.

Former chief of the defence workers Gen. Jonathan Vance and his substitute, Admiral Art McDonald, are each going through navy police investigations over sexual misconduct allegations.

Vance spoke with Global News after the allegations towards him first surfaced. He declined to supply remark to CBC News. McDonald has not responded publicly to the investigation involving him.

Two parliamentary committees are conducting their very own inquiries into what the Liberal authorities knew concerning the allegations towards McDonald and Vance, and when.

Viau stated she hopes the committees will take a look at Edmundson’s case as effectively.

“The military has to stop handing sexual misconduct in-house,” she stated. “The consequences should be the same for every Canadian.”

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