Senior army commander underneath investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting subordinate

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

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

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

The allegations towards Edmundson are essentially the most critical to be levelled not too long ago 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 Information reviewed a replica of her declare, which was dated July 22, 2020. (Andrew Lee/CBC Information)

Former army member Stéphanie Viau mentioned 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 mentioned she yelled at Edmundson and instructed him it was unacceptable behaviour. Days later, she mentioned, the misconduct escalated and Edmundson sexually assaulted her onboard HMCS Supplier in early November, 1991 whereas the ship was docked in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.

“He would not let me go,” Viau instructed CBC Information. “I can not say that it was a violent scenario, however he form of pushed me to the wall and he began undressing me.

“Then he turned me round and he raped me. There isn’t any different option to say it … My physique simply froze. I did not know what to do. I used to be terrified.”

Viau mentioned she did not report the assault on the time as a result of she was afraid to talk up towards the third-highest rating officer on the ship. She described a pervasive tradition of silence surrounding sexual misconduct, a scarcity of help from the chain of command and concern of profession reprisals.

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

Viau mentioned Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson’s inappropriate behaviour escalated to rape onboard HMCS Supplier a long time in the past 9:17

Edmundson denies the allegations

Viau mentioned she is sharing her story publicly for the primary time in an effort to heal. She mentioned she now needs an impartial investigation and costs laid.

I categorically deny that I’ve ever had non-consensual intercourse with anybody…ever– Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson

DND instructed CBC Information right now that Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, the performing chief of the defence employees, has referred the matter to army police. 

“The Canadian Armed Forces are very troubled by these allegations and, above else, are involved for the well-being of the sufferer who has been carrying this burden for 30 years,” wrote the division in a press release.

Edmundson denies the allegations.

“I categorically deny that I’ve ever had non-consensual intercourse with anybody … ever,” wrote Edmundson in a press release despatched to CBC Information.

CBC Information contacted Edmundson Tuesday afternoon and requested him to answer Wednesday afternoon to a detailed 12-point checklist of the allegations, together with the situation and timeframe for the claims. Edmundson mentioned he was not supplied with “adequate particulars” and the “time crucial to reply to the allegations in any element by any means.”

DND mentioned Edmundson “will probably be on go away till additional discover.”

A ‘systemic’ downside

Viau’s allegations add to a sample of claims of inappropriate behaviour involving Edmundson already reported by CBC Information earlier this month — a sample that doesn’t appear to have affected his profession arc.

Naval colleagues gave Edmundson the nickname “Mulligan man” within the late Nineties as a result of a army investigation into claims of undesirable sexual feedback, predatory behaviour and inappropriate relationships with subordinates underneath his chain of command cleared him of any wrongdoing.

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

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s workplace mentioned it requested Eyre to look into the claims involving Edmundson after CBC Information’ first story.

DND confirmed that Edmundson took go away after CBC’s first story was printed however his job standing did not change. Edmundson retained the title of commander of Navy Personnel Command, which supplies him authority over profession penalties for sexual misconduct circumstances.

WATCH | Navy’s human assets commander was investigated for inappropriate behaviour:

CBC Information has realized the commander in control of human assets for the Armed Forces was investigated for allegations of inappropriate behaviour within the Nineties. The invention comes because the Canadian army has two senior officers dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct. 1:59

Megan MacKenzie, the Simons Chair in Worldwide Legislation and Human Safety at Simon Fraser College, mentioned Edmundson’s case exhibits the army doesn’t have a zero tolerance coverage in the case of sexual assault within the ranks.

She mentioned Edmundson ought to have been requested to step apart quickly till the allegations had been correctly investigated.

“It is simply such an indication of the systemic nature of this downside,” mentioned MacKenzie, who’s a part of a global mission targeted on sexual assault within the army.

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

Sajjan’s workplace mentioned Eyre “has been dealing with the matter straight” in cooperation with army police and army personnel and famous that Edmundson is on go away “and never at present serving in his position of Navy Personnel Command.”

In a media assertion, the minister’s workplace mentioned it was made conscious of the sexual assault allegations yesterday and has requested officers to supply Viau help. That help, mentioned Sajjan’s spokesperson Todd Lane, “consists of aiding her to acquire the suitable police investigation that she requests.”

Edmundson named in class-action software

Final yr, Viau named Edmundson as one in all her alleged abusers in her software to affix the army’s sexual misconduct class motion settlement, in response to paperwork considered by CBC Information.

Viau claimed she was additionally sexually assaulted by two different superiors throughout her first two years within the army earlier than the alleged incident involving Edmundson. Her class-action declare is at present underneath evaluate.

“How ironic that HE was positioned in such a place,” Viau wrote about Edmundson within the declare dated July 22, 2020. “We will be unable to repair this tolerated sexual misconduct tradition with the identical those that nourished it.”

Viau wrote in her software that there was an underlying tradition of misogyny onboard HMCS Supplier within the early Nineties. She described male colleagues taking part in pornographic movies within the lounge of the ship, males strolling in on her whereas she was showering, and males continuously making undesirable sexual feedback about her look.

Stéphanie Viau (entrance centre) is seen right here with stewards onboard HMCS Supplier in 1991. (HMCS Supplier’s ZAUS SOLPLOY 1991 cruise e book)

She mentioned one in all her tasks on board was to quietly wake up officers for responsibility with out disturbing roommates or turning on vibrant lights (to keep away from compromising their night time imaginative and prescient).

Viau mentioned when the ship was at sea throughout an train referred to as “NZAUS SOPLOY” from Sept. 4 to Nov. 20, 1991, Edmundson began sleeping bare and exposing an increasing number of of his physique to her. Viau mentioned she additionally believes he pretended to be asleep at instances in order that she’d should spend longer making an attempt to wake him.

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

“I simply flashed the white lights and I began yelling, ‘I can not take this any longer. I can not imagine that is what I’ve to do for work. I imply, that is unacceptable.’ And I simply burst out.'”

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

‘I did not know get out of that scenario’

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

“I used to be extraordinarily nervous and I did not know get out of that scenario, and I believed to myself, ‘Simply apologize and get the hell out,'” Viau mentioned.

Viau alleges she instructed Edmundson her buddies had been ready and he or she needed to go away, however he “penetrated me towards my will,” in response to a replica of her class-action declare.

CBC Information interviewed a person who confirmed that Viau went lacking through 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 Supplier in 1991. (HMCS Supplier’s ZAUS SOLPLOY 1991 cruise e book)

“I do keep in mind going to search for her and I keep in mind calling her identify,” mentioned the girl, who requested to not be named as a result of she fears it may undermine her profession.

Viau mentioned 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 mentioned 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 mentioned she was instructed to be on her greatest behaviour for the next six months and was warned that she confronted dismissal from the Canadian Forces. She mentioned 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 army 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 army police raped her on the Connaught army vary in Ottawa when she was on short-term responsibility there in the summertime of 1990.

Veterans Affairs Canada accredited her declare for incapacity funds for post-traumatic stress dysfunction on Nov. 23, 2020, in response to authorities paperwork considered by CBC Information. Viau mentioned her trauma is linked to the sexual assaults.

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

A girl who served on HMCS Supplier in 1991 — and who requested to maintain her identification secret — mentioned the chain of command would not have taken Viau’s sexual assault grievance severely in 1991. 1:25

CBC Information 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 e book” from NZAUS SOPLOY considered by CBC Information additionally incorporates a sequence of images putting Viau and Edmundson on that ship through the related interval of time, and verifies the dates and routes Viau detailed in her allegations.

CBC Information 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 concern harm to their careers. They each mentioned that, primarily based on the whole lot they know, they believed Viau’s model of occasions.

‘She had no person’

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

“She had no person that she may belief to speak about it, or to make a grievance,” mentioned one of many people who served with Viau at sea in 1991. “She had no person. I feel that was the largest battle again then — you could not belief anyone.”

A second one who served with Viau and was instructed concerning the alleged sexual assault final yr mentioned it took “a whole lot of bravery and braveness” for her to go public.

“For her to reveal herself and her household to this, it is large. Based mostly on that and her integrity, there is no probability that there is a gap on this.”

Each people instructed CBC Information in addition they had been sexually assaulted throughout their time within the army. One mentioned she didn’t report it due to the prevailing tradition within the Canadian Forces on the time. She additionally mentioned her alleged attacker unfold rumours main others to publicly mock and humiliate her.

Viau calls on PM to order impartial investigation 

Viau mentioned she needs Edmundson charged with sexual assault.

There is no such thing as a time limitation on sexual assault reviews, mentioned retired colonel and army legislation knowledgeable Michel Drapeau, including {that a} sufferer can come ahead and report the crime a long time after it occurred.

I would like justice for me. However I additionally need justice for others.– Stéphanie Viau

It will be the army’s duty to analyze, he mentioned, for the reason that incident is alleged to have occurred aboard a army ship.

However Viau mentioned she needs an impartial investigation as a result of she would not belief the army to correctly examine and prosecute her case. The army has its personal police and often handles sexual assault costs by way of its separate justice system.

CBC Information’ The Fifth Property reported this month {that a} former army police investigator mentioned the army’s judicial system is “ill-equipped” to deal with such crimes. The previous investigator mentioned he handled commanding officers interfering with sexual assault circumstances, and prosecutors who had been reluctant to maneuver ahead with costs.

Statistics from 2014-2017 present that sexual assault conviction charges within the army had been properly beneath these in the civilian justice system.

Viau mentioned she has no religion within the army’s capability to conduct an investigation partly as a result of she alleges a army police officer sexually assaulted her previously.

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

“I am asking Justin Trudeau to alter that in order that it makes it potential for individuals like me to reveal and likewise to hunt justice,” mentioned Viau.

“I would like justice for me. However I additionally need 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 army from 1989 to 1991. (Andrew Lee/CBC Information)

After the army investigates, it has the choice to put costs in civilian court docket if the sufferer requests it, mentioned Drapeau. 

In a media assertion, the Prime Minister’s Workplace didn’t remark particularly on the case. The PMO mentioned that Prime Minister Trudeau has said that those that serve within the army should have a “protected work surroundings and have the assets and the helps wanted to come back ahead with any considerations or allegations.” 

“Because the Prime Minister and Minister Sajjan have mentioned, we’ll proceed to maneuver ahead on measures to make sure that we’re not solely giving these helps to individuals who come ahead, but in addition making certain that we’re putting in impartial mechanisms to place an finish to those deeply troubling allegations and this behaviour as soon as and for all,” wrote Alex Wellstead, a spokesperson for the PMO.

Give army sexual assault circumstances again to civilian courts: Drapeau

A long time in the past, the civilian justice system dealt with sexual assault circumstances involving army members. However in 1998, the Division of Nationwide Defence requested for a change to the Nationwide Defence Act to take away sexual assault from the checklist of significant crimes that fall outdoors of the army’s jurisdiction, mentioned Drapeau.

In a single day, he mentioned, army police and tribunals had been put in control of these circumstances with none prior expertise. 

“I’ve lengthy argued that jurisdiction for sexual assaults needs to be returned to civilian police and the civilian legal court docket,” mentioned Drapeau.

Mackenzie agreed the army just isn’t outfitted to cope with sexual assault allegations “properly,” particularly in the case of high-ranking officers. The system is constructed on the idea that high-ranking members will not commit misconduct, she mentioned — and the present disaster in the army exhibits that is not the case.

Former chief of the defence employees Gen. Jonathan Vance and his substitute, Admiral Artwork McDonald, are each dealing with army police investigations over sexual misconduct allegations.

Vance spoke with International Information after the allegations towards him first surfaced. He declined to supply remark to CBC Information. 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 mentioned she hopes the committees will take a look at Edmundson’s case as properly.

“The army has to cease handing sexual misconduct in-house,” she mentioned. “The implications needs to be the identical for each Canadian.”

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