Former soldier pleads guilty in high-profile military sexual assault case

Former soldier pleads guilty in high-profile military sexual assault case
Former soldier pleads guilty in high-profile military sexual assault case 26 March 2021 12:58 PM: A Canadian ex-soldier at the centre of a high-profile case of sexual assault in the military has pleaded guilty.

Former warrant officer André Gagnon was charged with assaulting former master corporal Stéphanie Raymond after a party in 2011 at an armoury near Quebec City.

He will be sentenced July 14.

Gagnon originally was tried by court martial and acquitted, but the case was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.

A new trial was ordered. Gagnon signalled earlier this month that he would change his plea to guilty to avoid more time in court.

Raymond told her story of being assaulted by Gagnon — and then hounded out of the military for reporting it — to Maclean's magazine in 2013.

That cover story helped spark an independent investigation and, eventually, Operation Honour, the official effort to stamp out sexual misconduct in the military.

Gagnon's guilty plea in a Quebec City court today comes at a time of extraordinary crisis in the military.

The acting chief of the defence staff has formally ended Operation Honour. Critics have said the operation is now thoroughly discredited after the country's two most senior military officers, Admiral Art McDonald and Gen. Jonathan Vance, were separately accused of sexual misconduct.

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre said the military intends to learn what it can from the institutional campaign, keep what worked and discard what did not.

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