Accused Master Seaman Daniel Cooper, right, arrives for his standing court martial case in Halifax on Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017. A court martial for a member of the Royal Canadian Navy accused of sexual assault and ill treatment of a subordinate is expected to reconvene today in Halifax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ted Pritchard

Canadian sailor testifies superior sexually assaulted him

A sailor from Halifax told a military court he was raped while aboard a navy destroyer

A Halifax sailor has told a military court he woke up in his bunk to a superior performing oral sex on him while a navy destroyer was visiting Spain in 2015.

The leading seaman was testifying Wednesday in Halifax at the standing court martial for Master Seaman Daniel Cooper, who is accused of sexual assault and ill treatment of a subordinate.

The man, whose name is protected by a publication ban, said he left HMCS Athabaskan around 10 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2015, to have some drinks with other crew members in Rota, Spain. He said he drank a number of beer throughout the day at a hotel and restaurant and later in the evening he and Cooper returned to the ship in a taxi.

He said the men had a few more drinks in the mess and eventually went to bed around 1 a.m. on Nov. 10, 2015 — but he woke up about three hours later as someone was performing oral sex on him.

“I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. I’m in shock. I’m frozen stiff,” he told the court. ”I’m not sure what to do.”

The man said it was dark and he couldn’t really see, but the person performing the act was repeating a sexual phrase to him, and he recognized the voice to be that of Cooper, a naval communicator at Canadian Forces Base Halifax.

He became emotional in the courtroom as he spoke about fearing for his safety and attempting to alert a crew member in the bunk below him — but he said his pleas for help went unanswered.

“I said, ‘I think I’m getting raped’ … But he didn’t believe me. His response was, ‘You’re drunk and I have duty in a few hours. Go back to bed’,” he said.

The junior sailor eventually told his alleged assaulter, “I’m not gay,” to which he replied, “Oh, sorry,” and left.

The alleged victim said once Cooper left, the sailor in the bunk below him realized he had been telling the truth. He said that sailor convinced him to report the sexual assault, and his superiors were notified of the alleged incident shortly after it happened.

He told the court he never invited Cooper into his bunk or consented to oral sex.

Cooper has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Maj. Philippe-Luc Boutin appeared to suggest the oral sex was consensual.

He asked the leading seaman if he remembered becoming aroused while speaking with Cooper near the bunks after they left the mess, and a discussion about sexual activity.

“I’m going to suggest to you … that your account of that night is not the truth,” said Boutin. “You made up a story because it was more convenient for you.”

But the man flatly denied the suggestions in the defence’s line of questioning.

“I was raped,” he said, speaking louder than previously.

Boutin also pointed to inconsistencies in his testimony. He noted that he told the court Wednesday that he was “very drunk” when he went to bed early that morning, but told police days after the incident that he wasn’t that drunk.

Before dismissing the alleged victim, Military Judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf said: “Thank you for coming forward to tell your story.”

The court martial continues Wednesday.

Military commanders have promised to crack down on sexual misconduct in the ranks since retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps reported 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.

Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.

Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria philanthropic food event raises funds for mental health

Oak Bay’s Vis-a-Vis one of 12 restaurants participating in Kitchens 4 Missions

B.C. SPCA Wild ARC seeking donations to replace roofs

Donations made to the roof campaign will be matched up to $10,000

Sidney town crier endorsement of mayor raises ire of resident

Local crier code doesn’t specify personal endorsement rules

Big Brothers Big Sisters seek mentors for kids who need a guiding light

September marks National Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Month

Oak Bay Councillor Eric Zhelka to seek re-election

Zhelka announces intention to run for council seat in upcoming municipal election

Saanich homeless camp residents at a standstill, evicted, prohibited from local parks

‘Ultimate goal is to get people into shelters and longer-term housing,’ Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

Most Read