A military judge is expected to render a decision today in the case of a Halifax sailor accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate. Accused Master Seaman Daniel Cooper, right, arrives for his standing court martial case in Halifax on Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ted Pritchard

Canadian sailor found guilty of sexual assault

Master Seaman Daniel Cooper had pleaded not guilty to the charges aboard the HMCS Athabaskan

A military judge has found a Halifax-based sailor guilty of sexually assaulting a subordinate.

In a verdict rendered Monday, military Judge Sandra Sukstorf also found Master Seaman Daniel Cooper guilty of ill treatment of a subordinate.

Sukstorf said there were inconsistencies in Cooper’s testimony during the trial and in a statement given to military police that were at odds with the evidence in the case.

“I do not believe his version of events,” said Sukstorf. “I do not find the accused credible on the issue of consent.”

Cooper had pleaded not guilty to the charges in relation to an incident aboard HMCS Athabaskan while the navy destroyer was visiting Spain in 2015.

Sukstorf said Cooper’s motivation was predatory and ”clearly not honourable.”

“The case amounts to a lack of consent on (the victim’s) part and a giant leap of imagination on Cooper’s part,” she said.

Cooper had pleaded not guilty to the charges in relation to an incident aboard HMCS Athabaskan while the navy destroyer was visiting Spain in 2015.

RELATED: Canadian sailor testifies sex was consensual

Cooper took the stand in his own defence at his court martial last week and testified that the sexual activity was consensual, but the victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, testified he awoke to the naval communicator at Canadian Forces Base Halifax performing oral sex on him.

Both sides agreed that Cooper’s version of what took place in the sailors’ sleeping quarters on the night in question cannot be reconciled with the victim’s testimony, but they clashed over which account was more credible.

During closing arguments Saturday, Prosecutor Maj. Dominic Martin said Cooper and the junior sailor’s accounts of the night of drinking before the alleged incident were “pretty compatible” up until when the sailors returned to their sleeping quarters on the navy destroyer, which was docked in Spain as part of a NATO exercise.

Under cross-examination Cooper maintained that he twice asked the junior sailor if he wanted to engage in sexual activity and the other man agreed.

He had previously testified that after a night of drinking, he and the junior sailor went back to their sleeping quarters, and as they were talking by the other man’s locker, he noticed that he had become aroused.

Cooper said he asked the junior sailor if he wanted to become intimate and the other man agreed. He said he asked the other man again at his bunk before engaging in sexual activity.

During closing arguments, Martin asserted that Cooper fabricated the conversation near the locker in an effort to “absolve” himself of guilt.

Defence counsel Maj. Phillipe Boutin argued it was the victim’s account that lacked credibility past “the point of no return.”

Boutin said the victim testified that he could not remember many details during the period of time in question, especially those that may put him in a “bad light.”

In previous testimony before the military court the victim said he feared for his safety and attempted to alert a crew member in the bunk below him — but he said his pleas for help went unanswered.

The sailor from the lower bunk testified Friday that he remembered the victim attempting to wake him up on the morning in question.

The bunkmate said the two men then reported the incident to a superior.

The military has promised to crack down on sexual misconduct in the ranks since an April 2015 report by retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps found an “underlying sexual culture.”

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.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

The Postmen collect 45 boxes of supplies for wildfire relief

Prince Rupert donations of food, water and toilet paper to be delivered to Burns Lake first

Coastal police unit operating with half its members

RCMP report to Port Edward council reveals low numbers on the coastal force

Sound of Prince Rupert’s cherry trees to be played around the world

Salvaged wood from chopped sakura trees is being crafted into taiko drum sticks

In Our Opinion: How to lose an ammonia tank— ask the city

How did a 68kg cylinder of ammonia remain unseen after multiple audits and assessments

Donation drop off tonight for B.C. wildfire victims

The Postmen have set up a three-day depot at the Moose Hall in Prince Rupert for disaster relief

This Week Podcast – Episode 98

From the Prince Rupert Golf Club, catch up on sports, entertainment and news highlights

The Northern View 2018 Readers Choice

Vote online or at the Prince Rupert office before noon on Sept. 7

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Most Read