· CBC News ·
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, right, arrives with his wife Madeleine Collin at a Gatineau, Que. courthouse for the second day of his trial on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)
WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin said Tuesday that he is not guilty of sexual assault and never had any physical contact with a woman who made detailed allegations against him in court this week.
Speaking in French on the second day of his trial, Fortin told a Gatineau, Que., courtroom that he was shocked and devastated to learn of the allegations.
Fortin was the military officer in charge of the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine campaign. He was removed from the position in May 2021 and charged with one count of sexual assault three months later.
His defence lawyer, Isabel Schurman, has argued that the complainant incorrectly identified Fortin.
But during testimony in court Tuesday, the woman at the centre of Fortin's trial told court she is certain the high-profile military commander is the one who assaulted her in 1988.
The woman told court that while she can't recall whether her attacker spoke during the alleged assault, she is certain of his identity.
"I can assure you without a doubt that it was Dany Fortin standing over me masturbating himself with my hand," the complainant testified Tuesday.
"I looked at him. I knew that man. I spent 18 months with him being around day in and day out, and so there may be some slight variances, but there are no variances in that."
Schurman has argued there are inconsistencies between the woman's interviews with investigators and her testimony in court.
Fortin was charged in 2021 with one count of sexual assault tied to an incident alleged to have happened more than three decades ago when he was a cadet at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
The two-day criminal trial started Monday at the Gatineau courthouse in Quebec. Fortin wore his military uniform and his medals for the civilian court proceeding. His wife and daughter walked into the courthouse with Fortin and sat in the front row.
The court has issued a publication ban on any details that could identify the complainant.
The complainant testified that she woke up in her bed in barracks to find Fortin holding her hand on his genitals and using it to masturbate.
The woman said Fortin had his other hand on her breasts. She said that when she tried to pull her hand away, he did not stop initially and tightened his grip.
The complainant testified that she was "horrified" and pushed him away, saying "get off me, get away." Fortin then pulled up his pants and left her room, she said.
The woman testified on Monday that Fortin never spoke during the alleged assault. On Tuesday, Schurman asked why the complainant told an investigator last year that she recognized Fortin's voice and his French accent during the incident.
The defence on Monday cited statements the complainant made in an earlier interview alleging the assailant moved to touch her vagina before she pushed him away. The complainant testified Monday that the statement wasn't accurate and she was under stress during that interview.
The complaint said she has recurring visions of the alleged attack and Fortin "masturbating himself with my hand" over her. She said she doesn't "100 per cent" remember what he did beyond the masturbation because she was 'in shock and in panic."
"When you come into court and you're asked to take an oath, you have to be 100 per cent sure," said the woman.
"I know he has fondled me. When you want to know the exact details, I cannot tell you 100 per cent where his hand was as I am in shock, and I am in panic, and I don't know what he's going to do to me beyond the masturbation … I don't know if his intent is to rape me ..."
The woman also said she's not certain if the assailant spoke.
The complainant's roommate at the time of the alleged assault also testified on Tuesday. She confirmed that she didn't recall hearing the alleged attack.
The roommate said there was a divider across their room in the barracks so she wouldn't have been able to see her neighbour's bed. The roommate also said she was a heavy sleeper and constantly tired because of the physical toll the cadet program took on her.
The roommate testified that she didn't remember the complainant telling her about the alleged sexual assault.
"I don't recall it," said the former roommate. "I'm not saying it never happened."
The complainant testified Monday that she didn't tell her roommate what had happened. She said she asked her roommate if she had heard anything and was told she hadn't.
The complainant said she was "ashamed" and "embarrassed" by the event and didn't want others to know.
The former roommate, meanwhile, said her time at military college was not a positive experience and she "wanted to quit every day I was there."
"You were exposed to a lot of behaviours that were probably not appropriate," said the roommate, adding there were "a lot of parties" there.
"We were teenagers. Most of couldn't drink in most provinces. We were pushed to our personal limits ... intellectual, emotionally, physically, sexually. A lot of people probably never experienced things like that. I think there was a lot of inappropriate behaviour in all facets and most people just want to fit in."
A court sketch of Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin on day one of his sexual assault trial in Gatineau, Que., on Sept. 19, 2022. (Lauren Foster-MacLeod/CBC)
The complainant's boyfriend at the time of the alleged sexual assault testified Tuesday that he doesn't recall the woman telling him about what happened. He said he would have acted had he known about the alleged assault.
The complainant testified Monday that she told her boyfriend after the alleged incident.
The complainant said she formally reported the case in 2021 to a senior military leader who was in her chain of command at the time. That man testified the complainant told him there had been a party in the college drill hall earlier that evening and she awoke in her bed to Fortin on top of her.
"She said there was some groping, restraining and an attempt to penetrate," the man said.
During cross-examination by the Crown prosecutor, the man said he didn't always take notes during his conversations with the complainant. The man said he didn't remember exactly what the complainant told him and was relying on those notes he took.
Fortin is also challenging his removal from the vaccine campaign in Federal Court. That appeal is scheduled to be heard on Oct. 5.
WATCH | Military commander charged with sexual assault says he's living a 'nightmare':
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.
Another example of how the witches of Salem actually got a fairer trial then men get today in Canada.
This is a she said versus a he said. In this case, Maj Eng Dany Fortin has "credibility" and the complainant already is having credibility issues reported.
That is not how most men are treated. In Canada a "she said" allegation of a criminal offence by a male has a 50% probability of a conviction not because of "the evidence"
but the political pressure that judges face to convict out of feminist sympathies and , the slow destruction of the Rules of Evidence in Canada.
A charge perjury requires that there be some corroborating evidence to prove that the statement made was perjury. That does not stop police laying charges of
"Criminal Defamation" and or "Perjury" anytime anyone makes a statement that the local corrupt police decide to engage in political intimidation.
Females making unsupported allegations do NOT require any evidence in order to gain a conviction. The Rules of evidence fail to even allow a judge to consider
the motivations, for example this female complainant stands to get a very large financial reward if her complaint is successful.
Any female in Canada generally has at least financial motivations in order to make a criminal complaint.
This means that the Canadian Rules of evidence make a mockery of justice.
Ottawa Mens Centre
CBC's political correctness is the stuff that makes you want to vomit. Notice the "posturing" at the end of the story?