Canadian soldier facing formal sex charge following private prosecution hearing brought by another soldier

Cpl. Oleksii Silin, a Canadian Forces soldier based at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick is facing charges of aggravated sexual assault and forcible confinement related to an alleged 2018 sexual assault at CFB Borden following a hearing on a private prosecution in an Ontario court Friday.

Arrest warrant issued for Cpl. Oleksii Silin on charges related to alleged 2018 sexual assault at CFB Borden

Military sexual assault case reopened by civilian court

2 months ago
Duration 2:04
A civilian judge in Barrie, Ont., heard the case of an alleged sexual assault that took place on a military base, charging Cpl. Oleksii Silin with sexual assault and forcible confinement.

WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

A Canadian Forces soldier is facing charges of aggravated sexual assault and forcible confinement following a hearing on a private prosecution held before an Ontario court Friday, according to a lawyer involved in the case. 

A justice of the peace issued an arrest warrant for Cpl. Oleksii Silin to face charges stemming from an alleged May 2018 sexual assault against another soldier at CFB Borden, a military base about 100 kilometres north of Toronto. Silin is currently based at CFB Gagetown in Oromocto, N.B. 

Bruce Boyden, the Toronto lawyer who filed the private prosecution on behalf of Cpl. Elle Jaszberenyi, the alleged victim, said he requested the warrant because Silin is a possible flight risk. 

Cpl. Oleksii Silin speaks to investigators with the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service in 2018 while he was under investigation for allegations of sexual assault.
Cpl. Oleksii Silin speaks to investigators with the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service in 2018 while he was under investigation for allegations of sexual assault. He is now facing charges of aggravated sexual assault and forcible confinement following a private prosecution hearing in an Ontario court Friday. (CFNIS/Federal Court)

Lawyer concerned Silin a flight risk

"It was important to detain him because we're concerned he'll flee jurisdiction," said Boyden. "They issued a warrant to ensure he answers to the court immediately."

Boyden said he believes Silin, who is originally from Ukraine, has a Ukrainian passport.

The private prosecution hearing — known as a pre-enquête hearing — was held virtually and closed to the public. Boyden provided CBC News with the results of the hearing.

Boyden said Crown prosecutor Rebecca Watson told Barrie, Ont., justice of the peace Douglas Peter Conley that her office would be taking over the case. Conley then formalized the charges against Silin, he said.

Jaszberenyi said she filed for a private prosecution with the Ontario Court of Justice in October 2022 in a last ditch effort to find justice after the military refused to prosecute her sexual assault allegation following a 2018 investigation.

A woman with dark, shoulder-length hair wearing a red sweater sits at a desk and looks at a man with cropped grey hair.
Cpl. Elle Jaszberenyi, who is with the military's intelligence branch, filed for a private prosecution after exhausting options to reopen her sexual assault case that was shut down in 2018 by a military prosecutor. (Sylvain Lepage/CBC News)

Her attempts to reopen the case through the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC), a quasi-judicial civilian oversight body, and the Federal Court failed. 

"I finally made it this far, hopefully I will be able to breathe better and start gaining my life back a little bit at time. It took a toll on me," said Jaszberenyi, in an interview with CBC News Friday, shortly after the hearing. 

A private prosecution provides an avenue for the public if they believe a crime was committed, to attempt filing charges against an individual without a police investigation. 

Boyden said he believes this may be the first time that a military sexual assault case in Canada has been reopened through a private prosecution.

WATCH | Case provides rare look into Canada's military justice system: 

Rare look at how Canadian Forces investigates sexual assault allegations

4 months ago
Duration 9:15
Documents obtained by CBC News reveal details of military investigations into two separate, alleged sexual misconduct incidents, giving a rare look into Canada's military justice system and how that system could be failing victims of sexual assault.

'There are so many victims suffering in silence'

Jaszberenyi told her story to CBC News this past December, but she asked only to be identified as "Jane." She told CBC News on Friday that she is now ready to allow her identity to be publicly known. 

Boyden said he asked the justice of the peace not to cover Jaszberenyi's name under a publication ban and he agreed. 

"I hope that I give a little bit more hope to other victims, for those who can never step forward, who are just hurting inside," said Jaszberenyi.

"There are so many victims suffering in silence. It's the process they make us go through that makes it very difficult."

A man wearing a navy suit jacket, white shirt and red and blue striped tie sits in front of a wall of greenery.
Bruce Boyden says he believes SIlin, who is from Ukraine and has a Ukrainian passport, could be a flight risk. (Albert Leung/CBC)

CBC News contacted Silin on Friday afternoon, but he refused to comment on the charges. 

"Everything that's gonna happen go through the chain of command, my chain of command," said Silin, in a phone conversation. "That's it."

Silin had previously called Jaszberenyi's allegations "all lies."

Military prosecutor rejected charges

The Canadian Forces is in the midst of transferring sexual assault cases to the civilian system on the recommendation of Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court justice, who was tasked with examining the roots of systemic sexual misconduct in the military amidst cascading scandals engulfing senior leadership in 2021. 

However, Jaszberenyi's case predated these changes. She felt she was left with no option but to seek a private prosecution. 

In an interview with military police investigators Jaszberenyi alleged that in May 2018, she had been sexually assaulted in a barracks broom closet at CFB Borden.

At the time, investigators with the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service (CFNIS) believed they had a solid case against Silin based on some statements he made during an interrogation. 

However, a military prosecutor rejected charges after concluding that Jaszberenyi "subjectively consented" during the incident.

The prosecutor based the determination on statements Jaszberenyi made to military police investigators. The prosecutor's legal reasoning remains hidden from public scrutiny.

Investigators shocked by prosecutor's decision

Sgt. Michael Bekkers, the lead investigator on the case, later told the MPCC that he found the prosecutor's decision "shocking, a little bit." He told the MPCC he believed Silin would have been charged in the civilian system. 

"We were under the impression that this guy is like a predator," he said, according to a record of an interview with the MPCC.

The MPCC said it could not review the prosecutor's decision because it was covered by client-solicitor privilege. 

An investigative assessment by the MPCC in June 2020 said the CFNIS investigators should have informed the prosecutor Silin was under a separate sexual assault investigation at the time. 

The assessment also found flaws in the way the CFNIS handled Jaszberenyi's case, citing shortcomings in interviews with both Jaszberenyi and Silin, as well as a failure to track down potential witnesses. 

"The sexual assault investigation … was inadequate," said the assessment.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through thisGovernment of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.


Jorge Barrera is a Caracas-born, award-winning journalist who has worked across the country and internationally. He works for CBC's investigative unit based out of Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter @JorgeBarrera or email him