Canadian soldier acquitted on sexual assault charge

Canadian soldier acquitted on sexual assault charge

Andre Gagnon was accused of coercing sex acts


QUEBEC – A Canadian soldier has been acquitted on a charge of sexually assaulting a female subordinate.

A five-member military jury announced the verdict at Andre Gagnon’s court martial in Quebec City on Friday.

Gagnon, 48, was on trial for the alleged sexual assault of then-corporal Stephanie Raymond in December 2011 at an armoury near Quebec City.

Gagnon’s lawyers said the sex was consensual, while the defence argued that he used his superior rank to coerce Raymond, 30, into sex acts.

Raymond’s lawyer, Marylene Trudel, accused Gagnon during the court martial of using her client as an “open bar” for his sexual gratification.

Gagnon faced one count under Sec. 130 of the National Defence Act as well as under the Criminal Code section corresponding to sexual assault.

Raymond, who served under Gagnon, testified that he made advances, engaged in sexual touching and attempted to get oral sex after a holiday party.

She said she initially went along with his actions because she feared later reprisals.

Raymond, who insisted her name not be protected under a publication ban, filed a complaint against Gagnon and was subsequently discharged by the army.

Gagnon testified that Raymond was the initiator and straddled him when they were alone in a room at the Regiment de la Chaudiere armoury in Levis after the party, where there had been considerable drinking.

He said she consented to sexual activities that included fondling, kissing and receiving oral sex. Gagnon said she only objected when he attempted to penetrate her and that he stopped at that point.

Gagnon testified that Raymond agreed to join him to sit on the floor of an empty room at the armoury to “relax and sober up.” It was at this point, he said, that she straddled him.

Gagnon said he interpreted this as an expression of openness and said Raymond remained passive and did not return any of the sexual touching.

He faced a maximum of 10 years behind bars had he been convicted.

The military court martial was overseen by a colonel in front of a panel of five soldiers.

The proceedings were handled by a court martial because both Gagnon and Raymond were in the Canadian Forces at the time of the incident. Raymond is now a full-time student.

It was also under military jurisdiction because the alleged crime happened at a Canadian Forces installation.