Two days set aside for former vaccine task force chief's sexual assault trial

·2 min read
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin's two-day criminal court hearing has been set for Sept. 19-20, 2022.  (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin's two-day criminal court hearing has been set for Sept. 19-20, 2022. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)

Two days have been set aside for the criminal trial of Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the former head of Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Fortin's trial was scheduled for Sept. 19-20 at the Gatineau courthouse Friday. The prosecution confirmed in court it plans to call one witness.

The military commander was charged in August with one count of sexual assault stemming from an incident alleged to have taken place in 1988, when he was a student at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean.

Fortin has pleaded not guilty to the charge and had said his family has been living through a "nightmare."

Earlier this week, Fortin opted to have his criminal court case tried by a Quebec judge without a jury present.

Fortin stepped down from his role as head of vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada in May 2021 as a military investigation was digging into the sexual misconduct allegation. The following week, Canada's military police referred their investigation to Quebec prosecutors to decide if charges should be laid.

Canada's military has been reeling from a series of sexual misconduct claims. Since February 2021, multiple current and former senior Canadian military leaders have been sidelined, investigated, criminally charged, or forced into retirement from some of the most powerful and prestigious posts in the defence establishment.

Fortin launched a separate legal battle in Federal Court in June 2021, claiming that politicians improperly meddled in his case. His legal team said that Fortin wanted either his job back or a role commensurate with his rank and experience.

In his notebook, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre described weeks of intense discussions over how to handle Fortin's case.

The Federal Court of Canada told Fortin on Oct. 12 that the military grievance process was the appropriate avenue to address his claim.

Fortin has since appealed the decision and the appeal is going ahead.

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