Edmonton·Exclusive

Edmonton soldier reinstated, now proudly back in uniform

Master Cpl. Orman Savage was convicted of sexual assault, but later acquitted in a second trial. After an ordeal that lasted more than a decade, the reservist has returned to the Canadian Armed Forces.

More than a decade after sex assault allegations Master Cpl. Orman Savage returns to serve his country

Last month Master Cpl. Orman Savage donned his uniform for the first time in more than a decade after getting his job back. (Supplied)

Last month, Master Cpl. Orman Savage put on his military uniform for the first time in more than a decade.

"His honour's back," said Diane Savage, who spoke to CBC News on behalf of her husband. "It's very emotional."

The couple have reached the conclusion of a brutal 12-year battle neither of them could have foreseen arising in Orman Savage's career as a military reservist.

It all began in 2004 when Savage was accused of sexual assaulting a female recruit at a party. He was found guilty but the conviction was eventually overturned. In a second trial, in 2009, he was found not guilty.

But the damage was done. The ordeal stole his career and his honour, creating countless consequences for his father, wife and sons, who are now 17 and 13.

The stain on his family's reputation was something her husband felt deeply, Diane said, pointing to a long line of Savages who had served all the way back to knights in Ireland 1,000 years ago.

After the not-guilty verdict, the ordeal didn't end. Diane said her husband was told it would take up to a year to get his job back.

Seven years on, he continued to wait.

'I'm just sad it took so long'

"You're on bated breath, you're just like, 'OK, is it going to happen?' " Diane said. She said the delay was largely due to a lack of a policy to reinstate individuals in such circumstances, which the military has since put in place.

"This is going to make it easier for others who run into a similar situation," she said. "It's a great thing. I'm just sad it took so long."

Diane said her husband's work as a master electrician kept him busy, and helped him cope, but the ordeal left him dealing daily with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Then in October, in contrast to the media frenzy as his life unraveled, Orman's life was so quietly restored he only found out about it by accident.
Master Cpl. Orman Savage and his wife Diane only learned about his reinstatement by accident. (Supplied)

Diane said the news came via text message. A friend noticed Orman's reinstatement on the Privy Council Office website. It had been posted a month earlier.

"We both kind of went, 'Really?' " said Diane with a laugh. "We didn't think it was true."

The Canadian Forces didn't comment for this story before publication, but Orman's defence lawyer said he was pleased "because Mr. Savage held dearly his position in the military and the reserves, and sincerely wanted to get back in."

'A gentle individual'

"He was a gentle individual and very committed to being part of the military," said Brian Beresh. "These are the sort of people that we want protecting us."

Diane said her husband's reinstatement will make it easier for others who run into a similar situation.

"It's a great thing," she said. "I'm just sad it took so long."

She said her husband is now easing back into military life where he is once again taking up a role as trainer and recruiter with the 41 Combat Engineer Regiment.

Orman Savage has sued the woman who first made the allegations, her mother and the investigating officer, who is accused of mishandling the investigation.

"I just want to see justice prevail," said Diane, who hopes to see her husband's rank restored to where it would have been if none of this had happened. "I just want there to be some normalcy again."

andrea.huncar@cbc.ca                    @andreahuncar


 

About the Author

Andrea Huncar

Reporter

Andrea Huncar reports on human rights, immigrant and Indigenous communities, youth at-risk and the justice system. Contact her in confidence at andrea.huncar@cbc.ca

with files from Janice Johnston