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  • Canadian Veterans Legal Services

Soldier acquitted in sexual assault of subordinate to face new trial

An Armed Forces soldier acquitted of sexually assaulting a female subordinate has been ordered to stand trial again.

André Gagnon was charged following an allegation by Stéphanie Raymond, who said she was assaulted following a 2011 party near Quebec City.

At Gagnon's court martial, the military judge told the five-man jury it could consider Gagnon's defence that he had a "sincere but erroneous" belief Raymond had agreed to sex.

The Defence Department challenged the verdict and requested a new trial, stating the military judge committed an error in his instructions to the jury.

In a unanimous decision delivered from the bench Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Canada sided with the Defence Department, saying the defence of a "sincere but erroneous" belief should never have been allowed.

Gagnon, a warrant officer, claimed at his court martial that the sex was consensual. The prosecution argued that he used his superior rank to coerce Raymond, a corporal at the time, into the acts. Raymond requested at the proceedings that her identity not be shielded by a publication ban.

It is not the first time the case has made it to the country's highest court. In 2016, the court rejected a motion by Gagnon arguing that courts martial held under the National Defence Act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee of prosecutorial independence.

Raymond first filed a complaint in 2012. Gagnon was acquitted following a court martial two years later.

Raymond's case is considered one of the catalysts that led to the launch of Operation Honour by the Canadian Armed Forces in July 2016 to combat sexual misconduct.

Source: The Canadian Press ·

Posted: Oct 16, 2018 8:59 PM ET | Last Updated: October 16, 2018

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