HALIFAX – The court martial of a Halifax sailor accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate has been postponed because of a power outage.
Master Seaman Daniel Cooper’s hearing was scheduled to resume Thursday afternoon, but a nor’easter knocked out power to the building that houses the military court, so proceedings will resume Friday.
On Wednesday, a sailor told the military court he woke up in his bunk to a superior performing oral sex on him while HMCS Athabaskan was visiting Spain in November 2015 as part of a NATO exercise.
The alleged victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, said he had some drinks with other crew members in Rota, Spain, before returning to the navy destroyer.
He said he had more to drink on board before going to bed, and then woke up to find someone in his bunk performing a sexual act on him and repeating a sexual phrase.
The man became emotional when he told the hearing he recognized the voice to be that of Cooper, a naval communicator at Canadian Forces Base Halifax.
Cooper has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and ill treatment of a subordinate.
He does not deny the sexual activity took place, and defence lawyer Maj. Philippe-Luc Boutin appeared to suggest Wednesday that the oral sex was consensual.
He asked the leading seaman during cross-examination if he remembered becoming aroused while speaking with Cooper near the bunks after they left the mess, and a discussion about sexual activity.
Military commanders have promised to crack down on sexual misconduct in the ranks since retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps reported in April 2015 that she had found an “underlying sexual culture” in the military.
Military police received 193 reports of sexual assault in 2017, more than twice the 93 reported in 2014. There have also been more charges, with 44 in 2016 compared to 24 in 2014.