General orders new review of troubled flight that led to sexual assault charges - InfoNews

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General orders new review of troubled flight that led to sexual assault charges

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance takes part in a press conference on Canada's peacekeeping mission to Mali in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 19, 2018.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
April 06, 2018 - 6:00 AM

OTTAWA - The military's top soldier has ordered a second investigation into a recent Team Canada trip that resulted in sexual-assault charges against a former NHL player and cast a cloud over the morale-boosting tours.

The new investigation is expected to be broader than the first, which was conducted by the Air Force soon after the December trip in which former Toronto Maple Leaf Tiger Williams was accused of having assaulted a flight attendant.

Williams has denied the accusations. The results of the Air Force's investigation, which were delivered to chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance in February, have not been made public.

Media reports after the December tour painted a picture of heavy drinking and partying on such trips, which involve the military flying athletes and celebrities overseas to meet with Canadian troops deployed abroad.

Vance denied such characterizations, but nonetheless banned alcohol on all future military flights and temporarily suspended the Team Canada visits until officials could determine what, if anything, needed to be fixed.

Defence Department spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said the new investigation ordered by Vance will include a review of police reports and evidence as well as interviews with witnesses — none of which was done during the Air Force probe.

The investigation will be conducted by Rear-Admiral Luc Cassivi, who is currently responsible for the military's different educational institutions, and is expected to take about 60 days.

Once complete, it will be delivered to Vance, who "will render the necessary direction and guidance to ensure the safe and effective conduct of Team Canada and other special flights in the future," Lemire said.

In the meantime, all Team Canada visits remain suspended.

The Toronto Star has reported that several passengers on the December tour arrived in Ottawa already drunk before embarking on the Team Canada flight — and that two were so inebriated that they urinated in their seats.

The paper also reported that the attendant Williams was alleged to have assaulted on the first leg of the tour was forced to return to Canada on a commercial flight, but that the former hockey player was allowed to continue on the tour.

Vance has promised to get to the bottom of what happened, but also insisted media reports portraying the tours in a poor light aren't accurate, and that his own experience found them to be well-run and good for the military.

He has also suggested that rather than setting back his efforts in recent years to shed the military's reputation as an institution that is hostile to women, the affair had proven that the Armed Forces is serious about dealing with misconduct.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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