Verdict expected today in Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin's sexual assault case

اخبارالعرب 24-كندا:الاثنين 5 ديسمبر 2022 04:10 صباحاً WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

A Quebec judge is set to deliver his verdict this afternoon in a high-profile sexual assault case involving a senior military commander who once led Canada's vaccine rollout.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin was removed from his job in 2021 during a military police investigation that later led to the sexual assault charge.

Fortin has pleaded not guilty and has maintained he never had any physical contact with the woman he's accused of assaulting more than 30 years ago when he was a cadet.

A woman testified during the trial in September that she was "horrified" to wake up in her bed at Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, Que. to find Fortin standing over her. She alleged Fortin was holding her hand on his genitals and using it to masturbate.

Fortin's defence lawyer, Isabel Schurman, argued during the trial that the complainant incorrectly identified her client. 

The complainant said she was "100 per cent without a doubt" it was Fortin who sexually assaulted her in 1988. The complainant's identity is protected under a court-ordered publication ban.

The Canadian military has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct against its senior leaders. Fortin is one of multiple current and former senior Canadian military leaders who have been investigated, criminally charged or forced into retirement since 2021 from some of the most prestigious posts in the defence establishment.

He's the first of those accused military leaders to have their case prosecuted in criminal court since last year. Fortin opted to be tried by judge alone.

Maj.-Gen. Danny Fortin, right, and his wife Madeleine Collin, centre, wait for the doors of an elevator to close at a Gatineau, Que. courthouse in September. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

Fortin will no longer be allowed to wear his military uniform to court after controversy erupted during his trial over his appearance.

Starting on Dec. 1, the military banned its members from wearing their uniforms and medals to civilian court while defending themselves on criminal charges.

Miltiary sexual trauma survivors and advocates said they were offended that Fortin, a highly-decorated military commander, wore his uniform and medals to his criminal trial. 

Survivors said they viewed that move as an act of intimidation that would make a complainant feel like they were facing off in court against the entire Canadian Armed Forces.

Fortin is also challenging his removal by the federal government from the vaccine campaign in Federal Court. His appeal date has not been set yet.

WATCH/ Military commander criticized for wearing uniform and medals to civilian trial 

Military commander criticized for wearing full uniform to civilian trial

2 months ago
Duration 2:10
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin drew criticism after wearing his full military uniform, including 10 medals, while on trial in civilian court for sexual assault.

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