Senior soldier once tasked with army command retired while facing sexual misconduct probe

The senior military leader who was poised to take command of the Canadian Army retired from the military earlier this month as an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him continued.

Retired lieutenant-general Trevor Cadieu has said the allegations against him are false

photo of trevor cadieu
Now retired lieutenant-general Trevor Cadieu was set to be sworn in as the head of the army at a ceremony last fall, but that was pushed off as the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service looked into allegations against him. (Phil LaPlante/CBC)

The senior military leader who was poised to take command of the Canadian Army retired from the military earlier this month as an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him continued.

"While I will always seek to remain a force for positive change and help individuals in our military to serve with happy hearts, I recently made the decision to release from the Canadian Armed Forces," retired lieutenant-general Trevor Cadieu said in a statement to CBC News.

Cadieu was set to be sworn in as the head of the army in a ceremony last fall. That was pushed off as the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) looked into "historical allegations" made against Cadieu, the Department of National Defence (DND) said at the time.

In a statement issued Tuesday, DND spokesperson Daniel LeBouthillier said Cadieu requested a voluntary release and retired earlier this month. He was eligible to retire under federal regulations because he served roughly 30 years with the Canadian Forces. 

Cadieu has denied any wrongdoing.

"I remain the subject of an investigation and am committed to cooperating further with authorities," he wrote in a media statement. "As this process evolves, rather than collect a salary for an indeterminate period of time while the CAF cannot employ me, I have opted to release and am exploring other opportunities to contribute to a greater good.

The Ottawa Citizen, the first to report on the CFNIS probe, reported Cadieu was being investigated in relation to allegations of sexual misconduct.

DND would not comment on the details of the investigation.

"I am grateful to all teammates that literally raised me from the age of 17 and made me a better person and leader. "

Cadieu could still face charges as a civilian if the investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing. Other retired military members have been called back to face courts martial in the past.

Last year, the federal government ordered the military to transfer ongoing sexual misconduct cases to the civilian judicial system. 

Cadieu could still face consequences after retirement 

A military review recently exposed a loophole that allowed another senior military leader to retire from the navy before facing disciplinary action.

In that case, retired navy commander Danny Croucher underwent a unit-level investigation of claims of sexual misconduct. He retired before being kicked out as "unsuitable for further service," sources told CBC News. Croucher then landed a civilian job at his old military base.

DND says Cadieu's case is different because he's the subject of a military police investigation and could still face consequences in retirement.

Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, a fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute who studies leadership and culture in the military, said she wonders whether Cadieu will face a court martial, given his high rank.

"I'm not concerned per se that he is retiring while an investigation is underway, because the way the military police works is that he can still be charged and face court martial after retirement," she said.

"Where the dynamics are a little bit concerning is whether or not he is going to face a court martial because there is some difficulty in charging and prosecuting lieutenant generals because of their rank and the corresponding ranks for military judges."

Retirement is a 'logical conclusion,' says expert

In October, Cadieu asked acting Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre to consider someone else for the post.

"Canadian Army soldiers deserve a leader who is unencumbered by allegations," he said in a written statement at the time. 

Duval-Lantoine said that was a sign of what was to come.

"I'm not surprised that he retired because after allegations of misconduct were levied against him, he said that he could not be commander of the army, whatever the outcome," she said. "So there was no opportunity for him and his career to move forward, so retirement was kind of the logical conclusion to his time in the military."

The military is in the midst of an ongoing sexual misconduct crisis, with several senior leaders facing allegations. 

The federal government and military have publicly apologized and have vowed to change the military's culture. Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour began a review last year to offer recommendations to address the crisis.

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