(Canadian OH&S News) — The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) National Investigative Service has charged a naval officer with sexual assault against a fellow military member — a day after laying the same charge against a sergeant with the military police, operating from the same base.
Master Seaman Daniel Cooper of the Naval Fleet School (Atlantic) at Canadian Forces Base Halifax was charged with one count of sexual assault and another of abuse of subordinates on Sept. 13. Cooper is accused of assaulting another CAF member aboard the HMCS Athabaskan last November, according to Lieutenant Blake Patterson, a public-affairs officer with the CAF Provost Marshal and Military Police Group.
“They were participating in an exercise called Trident Juncture,” explained Lieut. Patterson. “It was an international exercise.”
On Sept. 12, Sergeant Kevin MacIntyre, of the Military Police Unit at the Halifax base, was charged with sexual assault against a fellow CAF member. A news release from the Department of National Defence (DND) stated that this incident had occurred during another international exercise, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland in Sept. 2015.
“As members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the policing community, we hold military police to a very high standard of professional and personal conduct, in Canada or abroad, on or off military duty,” said commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Bolduc of the National Investigation Service in a press statement.
“These charges reflect our ongoing commitment to support victims and defend against sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.”
Sexual assault and harassment among members have been a priority for Canadian military police this year, through a plan known as Operation HONOUR. A progress report published last month revealed that the military had completed investigations of 51 sexual-misconduct complaints submitted since April, resulting in 30 members receiving some form of discipline (COHSN, Sept. 6).
But Lieut. Patterson stopped short of suggesting that the recent charges against Cooper and Sgt. MacIntyre had been a direct result of the CAF’s focus on sexual misconduct.
“Basically, the role of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service,” he said, “is to investigate serious and sensitive matters such as this. So essentially, whenever an allegation’s made or a report is made, then the National Investigation Service proceeds and investigates the case, looks into it, interviews, analyzes whatever evidence is available and then, if warranted, proceeds with charges.
“So certainly, it’s related to Operation HONOUR, but it’s not because of Operation HONOUR.”
Despite the similarities between the Cooper and Sgt. MacIntyre cases — both suspects are from the Halifax base and both alleged offences occurred overseas — and the fact that their respective charges were laid only a day apart, the cases are not related or special in any way, Lieut. Patterson clarified.
“Allegations of sexual misconduct by any of our members are taken seriously in all cases,” he said. “Every investigation would be unique depending on the circumstances of that case, and charges in some cases fall out of that.
“In this case, they happened on subsequent days,” added Lieut. Patterson, referring to the charges.
The assault charges against Cooper and Sgt. MacIntyre fall under section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada and are punishable under section 130 of the National Defence Act, according to information from the DND.