The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is investigating an alleged sexual assault that happened at the CFB Esquimalt on Oct. 5. (BlackPress file photo)

Investigation underway into reported sexual assault at B.C. naval base

An Oct. 5 allegation is being investigated by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

An Oct. 5 report of sexual assault at CFB Esquimalt on Southern Vancouver Island is currently under investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.

Major Jean-Marc Mercier, the public affairs officer to the Provost Marshall of Canadian Military Police, confirmed there is an investigation underway into an allegation of an Oct. 5 incident. He said he could not share any more information about the allegations while the investigation is ongoing.

“Once the investigation is over, if the findings — supported by factual evidence — are that there was a wrongdoing, then the CFNIS will lay charges,” he said.

READ MORE: Victoria plaintiffs part of national lawsuit against Canadian Armed Forces

Details about a reported sexual assault will only be released by the military police to the public if charges are being laid. If there isn’t enough evidence to go to court or a report cannot be proven, information will not be released to maintain privacy.

“We may communicate that the investigation is over and done, but there won’t be any further information as to who were the ones that were allegedly being the bad guys here because they have rights too,” he said.

Alleged victims, he said, may waive their right to privacy, but the military police are bound by law not to.

READ MORE: Court martial underway for retired CAF member accused of sex crimes in Esquimalt

He said the military police could not reveal how many investigations are ongoing at the base level, such as CFB Esquimalt, but that they keep track of that information at a national level.

“There are some bases that are so small that by giving out the number would actually be potentially revealing information on the identity of [victims and perpetrators],” Mercier said. “Maintaining some level of discretion is helpful to the value of the investigation.”

The latest available statistics from the Canadian Armed Forces about military police investigations is from 2016. It shows across the country there were investigations into 175 “level 1” sexual assaults, no “level 2 (weapon or bodily harm)” sexual assault investigations and one “level 3 (aggravated)” sexual assault investigation. In 2016, there were 13 investigations into sexual violations against children.

READ MORE: Former CFB Esquimalt naval officer charged with sexual assault


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keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

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