POLITICS

Judge now writing report on military sexual misconduct claims

01/19/2015 12:15 EST | Updated 03/21/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - An external review by a former Supreme Court of Canada justice into allegations of sexual misconduct in the military has been completed.

A spokeswoman for National Defence says retired justice Marie Deschamps is now writing a report, which is expected to be released in the spring.

Marie-Helene Brisson says Deschamps visited bases and met military members across the country in a review that was ordered following published reports last spring in Maclean's and L’actualite magazines, which claimed sexual assaults had reached epidemic levels in the military.

The stories contained interviews with several victims and examined a decade of statistics documenting reported attacks.

The reports said military police get as many as 200 complaints of sexual assault each year and many more cases go unreported by victims who fear the potential consequences.

Defence conducted its own internal review, but the country's military commander, Gen. Tom Lawson, ordered the external investigation after it became clear that “some barriers” prevented alleged victims from speaking up.

Brisson did not say whether Deschamps found any further allegations of misconduct, other than the ones published by the magazines.

Testifying before a Commons committee last May, Lawson underlined that sexual misconduct was unacceptable and called the allegations disturbing, but he said he didn't accept the notion that sexual violence and harassment are part of military culture.

He urged victims to come forward and trust the system.