‘Several’ witnesses corroborate sexual misconduct allegation against McDonald, accuser says

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Adam. The woman at the center of the sexual misconduct allegations against Art McDonald says she had “multiple” eyewitnesses confirming her story, including at least one senior Navy officer whom Granthshala News was able to verify.

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The revelation comes days after McDonald, the Chief of Defense Staff of Canada’s armed forces, sent a letter to senior military officials on Thursday claiming his exemption from the charge. The letter also argued for his “immediate” return to the top military post.

Speaking with Granthshala News ‘Mercedes Stephenson’ in an exclusive interview on Sunday, Navy Lieutenant Heather MacDonald shared her dismay at the military chief’s decision to send a letter upholding his innocence, claims at least one witness. Despite this, the one who purportedly corroborated his story. to attack.

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Macdonald said that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) did not say that his statements were unfounded during an argument with him, and that the military police investigation did not say that the top military leader was in any way, despite his decision. was acquitted. charge him.

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“I felt personally deceived by that letter,” she said.

According to Macdonald, military police interviewed dozens of people from the incident where he alleged sexual misconduct had occurred, and “multiple witnesses” corroborated his story.

Macdonald said one of the witnesses was a duty officer who was calm at the time of the alleged assault.

Granthshala News was able to speak to and verify the officer on duty outlined by Macdonald, who told Granthshala News that he had also given a statement to military police to confirm Macdonald’s version of events.

When asked whether the Defense Department interviewed a solicited witness confirming MacDonald’s story, the department replied that any information would have to be obtained through an access to information request.

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In a previous interview with the Globe and Mail, McDonald said he never spoke to military police during the investigation.

Macdonald also alleged that the Admiral had declined an argument with CFNIS after the investigation, and that it questioned the sources he had used to conclude in his letter that his allegations were substantiated. had not happened.

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to requests from Granthshala News to confirm that it had declined an argument with CFNIS.

In his letter, which was obtained by Granthshala News on Thursday, McDonald said he was “deeply disappointed that my acquittal did not lead to my return to duty,” indicting the admiral for alleged sexual misconduct by military police in August. After deciding not to install.

The admiral also argued that his reinstatement would be an important step in avoiding “undermining” the principles “foundational for legitimate cultural change”, citing the need for fairness for both accusers and wrongdoers. .

The letter also included McDonald’s concern because he has not heard anything from the Defense Department or the Prime Minister’s Office.

In August, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said he expected McDonald’s to be on leave while the government reviewed the situation.

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Several female executives victims of sexual misconduct told Granthshala News shortly after the letter’s release that they were deeply concerned by its tone, and that it could send the wrong message to those who want to come forward in the future.

Macdonald also said that the admiral’s letter was missing “obvious” things that were critical to addressing any sort of cultural change in the military.

“He never mentioned reconciliation, and he never reached out to me,” she said.

Military police said an investigation into MacDonald’s allegations did not yield evidence to support the allegations, which it says to them is part of the problem with the military justice system.

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“I don’t think the military justice system necessarily has the necessary tools to prosecute the most senior officer, and it’s not within their right to make any changes to allow that to happen,” McDonald said.

Several military and political sources said the lack of charges against McDonald had yet to address concerns about whether he had the moral authority needed to lead Canada’s military.

McDonald previously allowed Granthshala News to publicly share the details of its charge, which it described as unwanted touches on board at HMCS Montreal in July of 2020, when it was docked in Nuuk, Greenland. .

She alleged that, during a party with the Allied forces on the ship, McDonald pushed the ship’s captain’s face into her breasts when a button on her shirt was uncovered.

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At the time, McDonald was the task force commander leading a group of warships from Canada, Denmark and the US.

The captain allegedly pushed at Macdonald was his commanding officer.

McDonald’s denied the allegations against him in his letter and criticized media reports, saying “often” are filled with “harmful sensationalism, spontaneous and inaccurate characterization”.

Several leaders in the Canadian military, including former Chief of Defense Staff General Jonathan Vance, have been accused of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior, which is being described by experts as an institutional “crisis” in the CAF .

Vance has denied all allegations of inappropriate behavior since Granthshala News first reported on February 2.

In the months following the allegations, the crisis has resulted in a twin parliamentary committee inquiry, which has heard scathing testimony against the government’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations, as well as systemic problems that have allowed the Canadian military to flourish. .

With files from Granthshala News ‘Amanda’…

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