(Ottawa) The Canadian military, after weighing the probabilities, has concluded that Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin “did not commit sexual misconduct” after the officer was acquitted of sexual assault charges in December.
Updated January 23rd
Marie-Danielle Smith The Canadian Press
A spokesman for the Canadian Armed Forces said Monday that a review process had resulted in no administrative action and that an administrative review was not required in this case.
Daniel Le Bouthillier writes that Mr Fortin will be given “duties commensurate with his rank and experience” without giving a timetable. “We are aware that it has been a long and difficult process for everyone involved in this case,” adds Mr Le Bouthillier.
Judge Richard Meredith of the Quebec General Court ruled last month that the crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Mr Fortin who sexually assaulted a fellow officer at the Military College of Saint-Jean in 1988.
Quebec’s director of law and prosecution confirmed earlier this month that he would not appeal Mr Fortin’s acquittal. In a written statement to The Canadian Press, the DPCP said the decision had been communicated to the victim.
The DPCP also wished to highlight “the courage and resilience” shown by the applicant throughout the court proceedings.
Judge Meredith had insisted that he was satisfied that the applicant had indeed been sexually assaulted that evening. But he felt the Crown had not established beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the accused Fortin who had committed the crime.
Mr Fortin ‘looks forward to the service’
In a statement sent to The Canadian Press on Monday, Maj. Gen. Fortin said he “looks forward to serving Canadians” in a position befitting his rank and experience. But he adds that his current mission “certainly doesn’t fit that definition.”
When the allegation broke, Maj. Gen. Fortin was responsible for the federal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to provinces. He had been placed on paid leave in May 2021 while the allegation was being investigated.
Prior to his mandate in the National Vaccination Operation, Mr. Fortin was Commander of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq and Commander of the 1st Canadian Division.
Mr Le Bouthillier pointed out that since the allegations surfaced, the Major General had continued to be paid by the Canadian Armed Forces. Mr. Fortin has served as Senior Advisor to the Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command since August 2021.
Mr Fortin said on Monday that he intends to continue fighting his “unfair dismissal” and “lack of due process” in his case in federal appeals court. The government has dismissed Mr Fortin’s claims that he was sacked after political interference from Ottawa.
Mr Fortin explained that he had also lodged a formal complaint with the Military Police Complaints Commission about the way his file had been handled by that police unit. He claims his problem is still not solved.
“Tough in his career”
In an interview with The Canadian Press last month, his attorney, Natalia Rodriguez, raised the possibility of another lawsuit or an out-of-court settlement in the case. She had described the ordeal Mr Fortin endured as a “very hard blow to his career”.
Mr Rodriguez argued that his client had essentially been left in limbo for 18 months, limiting his ability to work and be transported before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 55 next summer.
Retired Colonel Michel Drapeau, who is now a lawyer specializing in military affairs, estimated last month that an acquittal should result in Mr Fortin’s immediate transfer to new duties.
“There is no legal or administrative reason not to do this,” Mr. Drapeau said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
A guide for 2020
The Army concludes on Monday that Mr Fortin did not commit any wrongdoing after requiring a review required by a policy introduced in late 2020 amid ongoing concerns about the Army’s stamping out of sexual assault.
This “Defense Administration Order and Policy” states that even if a soldier is acquitted of a charge, the armed forces still have an obligation to review the facts of the case “to determine whether there is reliable evidence that would place him in a charge.” Weighing of the probabilities demonstrate that sexual misconduct has occurred”.
The policy further emphasizes that a finding of guilt is not required to recommend release or impose other administrative measures.
In the case of Major General Fortin, the conclusion was reached “after a review of the available information, including the decision” by the Quebec Court, Mr Le Bouthillier wrote.