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LCOL faces sexual assault, harrassment charges

The Bread Guy

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As usual, according to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, "Any person charged with an offence has the right .... to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal ...."

This from the Info-machine - no charges proven in court at this point:
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) charged a member of the Canadian Armed Forces with offences related to sexual assault and harassment on March 25, 2015.

Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Bernier, former Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division Training Centre at 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Valcartier, Quebec was charged with:
  • two counts of sexual assault in accordance with section 130 of the National Defence Act (NDA), pursuant to section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC); and
  • two counts of harassment in accordance with section 129 of the NDA, pursuant to the Defence Administrative Order and Directive 5012-0
( .... )
 

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FYI: Inconduite dans l’armée : un haut gradé de Valcartier relevé de ses fonctions
http://www.lactualite.com/societe/inconduite-dans-larmee-un-haut-grade-de-valcartier-releve-de-ses-fonctions/
 

The Bread Guy

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Bumped with the latest, in Google English (original article in French - French text follows English, shared under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42)):
Lieutenant Colonel Martin Bernier pleaded guilty Thursday morning to two charges of sexual harassment on two military during his court martial.

The case dates back there almost a year to the day, on the night of October 18 to 19, 2014, at the Québec City Convention Centre, while unfolded Night of the 100th anniversary of the Royal 22nd Regiment, which put an end to the celebrations surrounding the centenary of the regiment.

Lieutenant Colonel Bernier commanded at the time the instruction of the 2nd Canadian Division Centre. The two victims were his subordinates and as many guests present, they were dressed in civilian clothes. Their respective spouses accompanied them.

During the evening, while the two women danced on the runway, Lieutenant Colonel went to join them. He began by taking the hand of one of them "creating some discomfort."

The other was the high-ranking "enterprising and taponneux".

In the minutes that followed, Lieutenant Colonel touched in turn, buttocks of each of the victims. One says that he "has pogne buttocks, solid". "He touched her left buttock with the palm of his left hand and it was not a mistake or someone who hangs another person," have we heard in court.

The two women, who know each other well, discussed at the end of the evening what had happened to them and expressed discomfort with their respective spouses and organizer of the evening.

They decided to file a complaint on 24 and 30 October, although the lieutenant colonel has himself warned his superior, Brigadier General Stéphane Lafaut, he had committed reprehensible acts. "Look boss, I think I have committed a major blunder," he has told the commander of the 2nd Canadian Division.

Martin Bernier was relieved of his duties on October 31 of the same year because of the allegations against him and has since been transferred to the headquarters of Ottawa, where he worked in the Strategic Joint Staff.

The defense lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Patrice Desbiens, says Lieutenant Colonel Martin Bernier had a "moment of madness" and that it should rather judge him on his entire career that began in 1988.

As Lieutenant Colonel pleaded guilty to harassment, other heads are automatically dropped. "It's not because it's harassment, rather than aggression that it is less serious", held reminded the prosecutor, Major Philippe Doucet. He said the two victims are also satisfied with the answer to the stored charge.

Under Article 129 of the National Defence Act, the Lieutenant Colonel is liable to the maximum "dismissal with disgrace from Her Majesty's service." However, it may be fined, reprimanded and demoted.

Le lieutenant-colonel Martin Bernier a plaidé coupable, ce jeudi matin, à deux accusations de harcèlement sexuel sur deux militaires, lors de son procès en cour martiale.

Les faits remontent il y a presque un an jour pour jour, dans la nuit du 18 au 19 octobre 2014, au Centre des congrès de Québec, alors que se déroulait la Soirée du 100e anniversaire du Royal 22e Régiment, qui mettait un terme aux célébrations entourant le centenaire du régiment.

Le lieutenant-colonel Bernier commandait à l’époque le Centre d’instruction de la 2e Division du Canada. Les deux victimes étaient ses subalternes et comme bien des convives présents, elles étaient habillées en civil. Leur conjoint respectif les accompagnait.

Au cours de la soirée, alors que les deux femmes dansaient sur la piste, le lieutenant-colonel est allé les rejoindre. Il a commencé par prendre la main d’une d’entre elle «créant un certain malaise».

L’autre trouvait le haut-gradé «entreprenant et taponneux».

Dans les minutes qui ont suivi, le lieutenant-colonel a touché, tour à tour, les fesses de chacune des victimes. L’une dira qu’il lui «a pogné une fesse, solide». «Il lui a touché la fesse gauche avec la paume de sa main gauche et il ne s’agissait pas d’une erreur ou de quelqu’un qui accroche une autre personne», a-t-on pu entendre en cour.

Les deux femmes, qui se connaissent bien, ont discuté à la fin de la soirée de ce qui venait de leur arriver et ont fait part du malaise avec leur conjoint respectif et un organisateur de la soirée.

Elles ont décidé de porter plainte le 24 et le 30 octobre, bien que le lieutenant-colonel ait de lui-même averti son supérieur, le brigadier-général Stéphane Lafaut, qu’il avait commis des gestes répréhensibles. «Écoutez patron, je crois que j’ai commis une bévue majeure», a-t-il ainsi déclaré au commandant de la 2e Division du Canada.

Martin Bernier a été relevé de ses fonctions le 31 octobre de la même année en raison des allégations qui pesaient sur lui et a depuis été transféré au quartier général d’Ottawa, où il travaille à l’état-major interarmées stratégique.

L’avocat de la défense, le capitaine de corvette Patrice Desbiens, estime que le lieutenant-colonel Martin Bernier a eu «un moment d’égarement» et qu’il faut plutôt le juger sur l’intégralité de sa carrière qui a commencé en 1988.

Puisque le lieutenant-colonel a plaidé coupable d’harcèlement, les autres chefs sont automatiquement abandonnés. «Ce n’est pas parce que c’est du harcèlement plutôt qu’une agression que c’est moins grave», a tenu a rappelé le procureur, le major Philippe Doucet. Selon lui, les deux victimes sont d’ailleurs satisfaites de la réponse à l’accusation enregistrée.

En vertu de l’article 129 de la Loi sur la Défense nationale, le lieutenant-colonel est passible au maximum «de destitution ignominieuse du service de Sa Majesté». Il pourrait toutefois écoper d’une amende, d’un blâme et d’une rétrogradation.
 

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This time, via English-language media:
A former commander with the Canadian military saw charges of sexual assault dropped on Thursday after pleading guilty to harassing two of his junior officers.

Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Bernier, formerly of CFB Valcartier, acknowledged on Thursday morning that he violated the Department of National Defence's rules of conduct one night last October.

The two junior officers who filed charges against Bernier testified that he touched their buttocks and grabbed them by their waists at a party to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal 22nd Regiment.

( .... )

Brigadier General Stéphane Lafaux, commander of the Second Canadian Division in which Bernier served, also testified on Thursday. He said Bernier was relieved from his position one week after the event.

Lafaux said given the information he had received, he "no longer trusted his capacity to command the unit."

He said Bernier's responsibility was to train new recruits and teach them the ethics of the armed forces.

"Given the circumstances, he was no longer credible in this role," he said.

He said Bernier expressed regret for the events in question.

Lafaux said there is no greater punishment for a commander than to be relieved of one's functions.

Bernier was transferred to Ottawa, where he is now posted with the Strategic Joint Staff.
 
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