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

Politics

A high-profile sexual assault case involving the Canadian military has come to an end following years of legal battles. Former warrant officer André Gagnon pleaded guilty today to assaulting former master corporal Stéphanie Raymond — a case that helped launch the public reckoning over sexual misconduct in the ranks now shaking the Armed Forces.

Former warrant officer André Gagnon, pictured here during court martial proceedings in the past, has pleaded guilty to sexual assault. (Radio-Canada)

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Murray Brewster is senior defence writer for CBC News, based in Ottawa. He has covered the Canadian military and foreign policy from Parliament Hill for over a decade. Among other assignments, he spent a total of 15 months on the ground covering the Afghan war for The Canadian Press. Prior to that, he covered defence issues and politics for CP in Nova Scotia for 11 years and was bureau chief for Standard Broadcast News in Ottawa.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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