Nova Scotia

Halifax navy seaman Daniel Cooper faces sex assault charge

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Halifax has been charged with sexual assault — the second such charge in as many days for the military.

Assault allegedly occurred during NATO training exercise aboard HMCS Athabaskan

Master Seaman Daniel Cooper is alleged to have committed a sexual assault while deployed on a NATO training exercise off the coasts of Portugal and Spain, while aboard HMCS Athabaskan. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Halifax has been charged with sexual assault — the second such charge in as many days for the military.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service laid two charges under the National Defence Act against Master Seaman Daniel Cooper of the Naval Fleet School at CFB Halifax.

The charges relate to a sexual assault that allegedly took place on Nov. 10, 2015. At that time, Cooper was deployed on a NATO training exercise dubbed Trident Juncture off the coasts of Portugal and Spain while aboard HMCS Athabaskan.

The complainant is another male sailor, who reported an assault through the chain of command, military police said in December. CBC News broke the story about the military investigation in December 2015.

Cooper faces one count of sexual assault and one count of abuse of subordinates. His trial will be by court martial before a military judge.

Same-sex assault 'does not change anything'

A military police spokesperson said information about counselling was provided to the complainant, but did not say if he has used the help.

Rear Admiral John Newton, commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, said last year when the investigation began that he was trying to create an atmosphere where victims can come forward.

"We have two members of the same sex, but that doesn't change one thing in our response to the support to the victim," Newton said. "It does not change anything."

That includes separating the sailor who reported an assault from the alleged perpetrator and protecting him from re-victimization, he said.

Another sex assault charge

This is the second time this week a member of the Canadian military has been charged with sexual assault. On Monday, Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, who is stationed at CFB Halifax, was charged in connection with an incident that took place in Glasgow in September 2015. 

Last month, the military's top brass said progress had been made in the war on sexual misconduct in the ranks, after more people came forward to report sexual offences.

"All allegations of sexual misconduct are taken seriously in all cases where complaints are lodged or reports are brought forward," said Lt. Blake Patterson.

5 courts martial completed this year

Military police charged 34 service members with sexual offences in 2015 and 15 during the first six months of 2016.

Officials say five courts martial have been completed this year, with two military personnel found guilty of sexual assault and one on charges related to child pornography. One service member was found not guilty of sexual assault, while charges against the fifth person were withdrawn.

With files from The Canadian Press