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Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin acquitted of sexual assault

Major-General Dany Fortin upon his arrival at the Gatineau courthouse, December 5, 2022.

Major-General Dany Fortin upon his arrival at the Gatineau courthouse, December 5, 2022.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Pepin

RCI

Fortin once led Canada's COVID vaccine rollout

Quebec judge Richard Meredith has acquitted Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin — the senior military commander who once led Canada's vaccine rollout — of one count of sexual assault.

On Monday, Meredith said he was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Fortin was the culprit in this case.

Fortin 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 at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

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

Meredith said he believes the complainant was sexually assaulted but wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the assailant was Fortin.

The judge said the court can't expect a complainant to remember everything but there were significant contradictions in her testimony.

For example, the complainant told military police investigators that Fortin spoke during the alleged incident and she recognized his voice. While testifying during the trial, however, the complainant said he didn't speak.

The complainant also said she recognized Fortin during the assault because they were together daily The court concluded they were not together every day.

The judge said that while he believes the complainant was assaulted and her testimony was sincere, she must show beyond a reasonable doubt it was Fortin.

The judge said Fortin claimed he had never set foot in the complainant's room.

His testimony was clear and consistent, the judge said.

This is a breaking file. A previous version of the story is below.


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 ruling 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 (new window) 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.

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.

Military 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.

2 months agoDuration2:10Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin drew criticism after wearing his full military uniform, including 10 medals, while on trial in civilian court for sexual assault.

Ashley Burke (new window)Catharine Tunney (new window) · CBC News ·

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