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Sexual assault charge stayed against former senior officer once poised to command army

The Ontario Court of Justice has stayed a sexual assault charge against retired Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu because the case took too long to go to trial, said his lawyer.

Cadieu was poised to take command of the Canadian Army in 2021. His case is the second military sexual offence trial to be terminated in recent months due to delays in civilian court.

“The court stayed the charge he faced because the prosecution breached his constitutional right to a timely trial,” said Cadieu’s lawyer Scott Hutchison in a media statement. “This brings the case conclusively to an end.”

Cadieu’s trial date was scheduled for February in Kingston, Ont. His legal team argued his right to a trial within a reasonable time, guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, had been violated. 

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada set ceilings for permissible delays in bringing cases to trial. Cases coming through provincial court are supposed to be tried and completed within 18 months.

Last month, a retired Canadian Armed Forces corporal said she’s lost faith in the justice system’s ability to prosecute military sexual assault cases after a judge said he “reluctantly” stayed the charge in her case because of a 21-month delay.

Arianna Nolet warned that if the courts don’t act immediately, “there will be more victims suffering the same fate as my case.” The judge said the Crown and defence put the case on the “back burner” for months and failed to take reasonable steps to address delays.

Cadieu was charged with two counts of sexual assault in June 2022 related to incidents that allegedly took place in 1994 at Royal Military College Kingston, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal said last year. Those charges were replaced by a single count in court in Kingston.

Cadieu had pleaded not guilty in court and denied the allegations, his lawyer said.

WATCH/ Army commander’s appointment postponed over misconduct allegations 

Army commander’s appointment postponed over misconduct allegations

2 years ago

Duration 2:25

Featured VideoThe Canadian military has postponed the appointment of Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu as its next commander of the army after it was revealed an investigation is looking into ‘historical allegations’ against him.

Since Cadieu’s charge has been stayed, his trial has been terminated and he has not been found guilty or not guilty. 

“We have learned time and again the importance of the presumption of innocence and timely consideration of all the evidence and information — Charter rights that are afforded to all Canadians” said Hutchison.

Hutchison said Cadieu “cooperated with military investigators and the courts” throughout the process.

“While he has always been confident that he would prevail, the process has been incredibly stressful for him and his family,” he wrote.

Cadieu’s case is among the first to reach a conclusion in civilian court since the military started transferring dozens of sexual offence cases to the civilian system in late 2021.

Retired Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour called on the military to hand over sexual offence files to the civilian system as part of her interim recommendations on military sexual misconduct. Then-defence minister Anita Anand acted on that recommendation, which was meant to restore trust in the military.

Cadieu retired from the military last year. In a statement, he said he didn’t want to collect a salary while under investigation and was seeking other opportunities.

Cadieu later told CBC News that he was in Ukraine in 2022 — following Russia’s full-scale invasion — when he learned that he had been charged by the Canadian Armed Forces Investigative Service and made arrangements to return to Canada.

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