Politics

Court sets dates for former head of military HR's sexual assault trial

A court has set aside 13 days next year for the criminal trial of the military's former head of human resources.

Independent report on how to address military's sexual misconduct crisis set for release by end of month

Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson's trial has been scheduled for 13 days starting in August 2023. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A court has set aside 13 days next year for the criminal trial of the military's former head of human resources. 

Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson was charged in December 2021 with sexual assault and committing indecent acts. Edmundson has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer, Brian Greenspan, has said Edmundson looks forward to restoring his reputation.

The trial is set to start Aug. 8, 2023 in an Ottawa civilian court. Edmundson has chosen to be tried in the Ontario Court of Justice, which means there will not be a jury.

A publication ban is in place protecting the identity of the complainant.

As a former commander, Edmundson had authority over career consequences for military members found to have engaged in sexual misconduct.

His office's mandate included eliminating harmful and inappropriate behaviour in the military and complying with a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian Armed Forces over sexual misconduct, according to the military's website. 

The allegations against Edmundson are the most serious to be levelled against any senior leader in the Canadian Armed Forces during the recent sexual misconduct crisis. The military removed Edmundson from his role and later replaced him following CBC News' reporting on his case.

Since early February 2021, multiple current and former senior Canadian military leaders have been sidelined, investigated, criminally charged or forced into retirement from some of the most powerful and prestigious posts in the defence establishment.

Experts who study military sexual misconduct say they can't think of another military anywhere else in the world that has seen so many senior leaders swept up in scandal at the same time.

Report on sexual misconduct to be made public soon

A much-anticipated independent review of how the military should address the sexual misconduct crisis is set to be released by May 30.

The government triggered the independent review almost a year ago following Global News reports on the former chief of the defence staff, the now-retired Gen. Jonathan Vance.

As commander of Military Personnel Command, Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, right, used to report directly to then-chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Vance pleaded guilty in March to obstruction of justice and acknowledged he was in a sexual relationship with a subordinate while in the top job, after having denied those claims in the past.

His replacement, Admiral Art McDonald, was terminated from his position last year following sexual misconduct allegations that he denied.

The independent review, led by former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, is the second such review in the past seven years.

In 2015, former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps released a milestone report that found sexual assault, harassment and bullying were endemic in the Canadian Armed Forces — and that senior leadership tolerated it.

The federal government has been criticized for launching a second review and failing to properly implement the recommendations from the Deschamps' report.

Edmundson's next court appearance is set for Jan. 3, 2023. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Burke

Senior reporter

Ashley Burke is a senior reporter with CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. Have a story idea? Email her at ashley.burke@cbc.ca

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