DND resumes inquiry into handling of sex assault case
Report into army's handling of high-profile case was already written, now on hold for further investigation
A military board examining how the army dealt with a high-profile case of sexual assault has been ordered to stop writing its final report on the incident and continue pursuing its internal investigation on a number of points, CBC News has learned.
As of mid-April, the board of inquiry (BOI) report into retired master corporal Stéphanie Raymond's case had been written and was almost ready for sign-off.
But Lt.-Gen. Marquis Haines recently instructed the five member panel to take another look at "a few further issues" that were not sufficiently addressed in the initial investigation, several government sources have told the CBC.
An army spokesman confirmed the inquiry has resumed.
"The convening authority, the Canadian army, has asked the BOI to assemble once again to continue pursuing its work to investigate one or two additional points," Lt.-Col. Andre Salloum said in an interview. He wouldn't comment on what aspects require more examination, nor when the extended investigation would be completed.
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Raymond alleged she was raped by a superior and then drummed out of the army in 2013 for reporting it.
In a December 2014 letter, former Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson conceded Raymond had been treated badly by senior officers in her regiment, and that her release from the military was based on information found in fraudulent documents.
The board of inquiry, which was struck 18 months ago, is significant because it's the military's internal investigation into how the institution responded to her complaints, and her later formal grievances.
It is not a criminal investigation. The accused superior officer in the Raymond case was tried separately by the military justice system and acquitted.
Her story was among a handful featured in an investigation by Maclean's and L'actualité magazines in May 2014.
The resulting controversy sparked an independent review by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps, who found the Forces were steeped in a macho culture that leaves women too fearful to report assault and abuse.
The military is still dealing with the fallout.
'I think they're trying to buy time here, so that we will all forget about it and eventually say, 'Stephanie who?'' - Retired colonel Michel Drapeau , victim's lawyer
Last summer, chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, launched a wide-ranging crackdown on inappropriate behavior and abuse.
Experts have said that the inquiry will be closely watched by members of the military because, if someone is held accountable, it will be the clearest sign yet that the Forces is serious about dealing with harassment and abuse.
Raymond's lawyer said it is highly unusual for the military to reopen an inquiry once a report is drafted.
"I'm puzzled," said Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel and military law expert. "Either they're missing the boat on some important issue, or there is something amiss in the logic chain, meaning they've come to conclusions that can't be supported."
Should the military investigate itself?
His concern is that the final report may be watered down in some way.
Drapeau is skeptical about the military investigating itself.
"I think they're trying to buy time here, so that we will all forget about it and eventually say, 'Stephanie who?'"