• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations in The CAF

Brad Sallows

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
314
Points
880
Part of the point of a character reference is the standing of the person writing it. "Here is a reference from just some guy" isn't much use. I see no value to going through an elaborate theatrical performance to pretend no-one knows the rank and position of someone writing a reference. If the author doesn't express something along the lines of "As a official representative of the CAF, I...", then it's just him.

The assumption that a character reference has to be medically grounded is unfounded. "This is the soldier I knew" can be expressed without speculating on causes of behavioural change.

Not everyone is caught the first time they go bad, but there was still a starting event.
 

Loachman

Former Army Pilot in Drag
Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
325
Points
980
A Colonel or GOFO speaking/writing as a representative of the CAF (or any part of it) is unable to present a " layman's opinion on someone's character" - that colonel or GOFO is presenting the institution's opinion. In making the representation, their words are carried not by the authority of the speaker but by the authority of the institution. If the idea is presented that major rapist was a really good guy who was broken by the service and PTSD has changed him, that is a medical opinion for which the CAF has qualified professionals to develop.

From another perspective: If one believes (as some are arguing here) that the CAF is obliged or not obliged to provide character references based upon whether or not service attributable PTSD was a factor, then the act of giving a statement of character support on behalf of the institution would imply a medical opinion on behalf of he institution.

As I have said previously, if someone wants to provide a character reference then they can take off the rank and uniform to provide that reference as an individual. But if that opinion is going to be offered with the weight of the institution, then it needs to have been confirmed by the competent authorities of the institution.
If the writer of the character reference is somebody who has known, worked with, led, and/or fought beside, regardless of rank, how can that considered to be "presenting the institution's opinion"? The writer is simply stating his opinion of the offender's pre-offence character as he personally knew it. And that observation, in this case, would also outline the offender's observed behaviour and performance both pre- and post-service-related mental injury. It doesn't take a professional to link observations with a specific series of events.

I've observed significant behavioural changes in people. One, in the old days before we understood operational stress injuries as much as we do now (still not well enough) and began providing supports and treatments (still not well enough), was a friend and colleague who returned from a thirteen-month UNMO tour in a southeast Asian country with both physical and mental wounds. The latter were the most significant. Lacking any other method of escaping or controlling his mental trauma, he frequently sought solace in alcohol. He would generally appear to be perfectly normal, with the exception of a few occasional minor and brief unprovoked outbursts, but even a small amount of alcohol would lead him down a very dark path. This eventually cost him both career and family. With distinctly different pre-Cambodia and post-Cambodia behaviour, it was not hard for non-doctor me to make the obvious causal link.

No medical professional would be able to speak about an individual's pre-traumatic-event behaviour, unless he or she knew the offender well. A mental assessment could be made, but not a character assessment.

Were I to be asked to write a character reference for him in a hypothetical court case, I most certainly would, and I would lay out everything that I had observed, including the nature of our professional and private relationships.

That would not be me "presenting the institution's opinion", it would be me presenting my own. And that holds for anybody else who writes one, regardless of rank, which, for such a purpose, would be irrelevant.

Writing one on official letterhead, however, could certainly give an institutional impression but I doubt that that would sway a judge.

I wouldn't necessarily abandon him, either, regardless of any crime committed, not would I anybody in need of help.

In this case, he cut off all contact with everybody and disappeared. I have no idea where he is today, almost thirty years later.

I do not see that "the CAF is obliged or not obliged to provide character references based upon whether or not service attributable PTSD was a factor" in the case at hand. The Armed Forces, as an institution, does not know this particular offender outside of PERs and such, and is in no position to assess character. His (possibly former) friends and colleagues, however, do, and they chose to write character references, and no, that does not "imply a medical opinion on behalf of he institution."

"As I have said previously, if someone wants to provide a character reference then they can take off the rank and uniform to provide that reference as an individual". Who, other than them, knows what they were or were not wearing when they wrote these letters? They seem to have been very much writing as individuals, but, again, none of us here have seen the actual letters. Regardless, in the process of writing them, they would have to describe the nature of their professional and private relationships which were, in at least some cases, as superior officers describing a subordinate. And their ranks would be known, anyway.

These opinions were not "offered with the weight of the institution", and, even if they were, who would be the "competent authority" qualified to "confirm" these opinions better than colleagues and superior officers who had known the offender for years?

Some sort of psychologist - maybe even a pack of them, possibly even speaking on behalf of both defence and prosecution - may well have provided testimony and/or assessments in either or both trial and sentencing phase, but they would not be competent to discuss pre-offence character or behaviour, only an assessment of the offender in the state in which they examined him.
 

Jarnhamar

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
647
Points
940

Sajjan open to 'far greater' changes to military's handling of sexual misconduct​

Link

The defence minister testified before a parliamentary committee in April that he had followed up several times for information about the allegation that had been referred to the Privy Council Office, which subsequently abandoned it.

Sajjan had previously told committee members he had not followed up on the investigation in order to avoid interfering in it.


At least General Dawe owned up to making a bad decision. The MNDs first reaction was to apparently lie.
 

Jarnhamar

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
647
Points
940
Maybe we won't hear about senior leaders in the news for a while


Head of Canadian military intelligence school removed amid misconduct probe​

Link
The commandant of the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence is under investigation over alleged misconduct and has been temporarily removed from the role.
 

Loachman

Former Army Pilot in Drag
Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
325
Points
980
He did it twice by the time he got caught the first time, so he was establishing a history.

A history of twice.

Not that that is good, at all, but people who believe that he may have committed similar offences before these two have nothing concrete to go on.

He got probation here, went on to sexually assault someone else, and went to jail for that.

So Dawe provided him a character witness statement that helped get him probation, which Hamilton took advantage of to reoffend, while not supporting the original victims under his command.

We do not know exactly what was written, nor what statements to the contrary were or were not made, nor the weight that each was given, if any. The judge, however, examined all of the information presented to him in trail and sentencing phases and made his decision, for whatever reasons.

Should the offender have been denied such references? Lawyers here don't seem to think so. Such happens in other cases as well.

If he should have been denied such references, should he also have been denied an effective defence in the trial phase?

What if MGen Dawe was called as a witness in the trial phase? Should he not have testified to the character of the (then-) accused had he been questioned about it?
 

Halifax Tar

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
257
Points
880
Maybe we won't hear about senior leaders in the news for a while


Head of Canadian military intelligence school removed amid misconduct probe​

Link
Donald Trump No GIF by Election 2016


At what point do we disband the wardroom ? <ducks from high classed snorts and flying tea cups thrown with pinky fingers>
 

McG

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
118
Points
680
"As I have said previously, if someone wants to provide a character reference then they can take off the rank and uniform to provide that reference as an individual". Who, other than them, knows what they were or were not wearing when they wrote these letters?
I can’t tell if you really don’t understand the figurative here, so I will spell it out. “Take the uniform off” would mean not using CAF or regimental letterhead and not using any official signature blocks.

Writing one on official letterhead, however, could certainly give an institutional impression but I doubt that that would sway a judge.

….

They seem to have been very much writing as individuals, but, again, none of us here have seen the actual letters. Regardless, in the process of writing them, they would have to describe the nature of their professional and private relationships which were, in at least some cases, as superior officers describing a subordinate. And their ranks would be known, anyway.
Yes, official letterheads and rank titles will sway civilian judges who don’t understand CAF structures. But, did you read the news articles? Really? Here is one for you: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-sexual-assault-1.6004040

We know these letters had influence because the judge mentions the character references from senior officers in the court documents. We know at least one was written from a regiment (not as an individual in anyway). You keep observing that none of us have read the letters themselves, but you are stitching your arguments together like you have not even looked at what is available in public knowledge.
 
Last edited:

Weinie

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
572
Points
1,010
The night of long knives or are chickens coming home to roost ?
Is your disbelief in the integrity and ethics of senior officers so jaded that you cannot see any way forward other than to believe that we are all compromised/unethical?
 

Halifax Tar

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
257
Points
880
Is your disbelief in the integrity and ethics of senior officers so jaded that you cannot see any way forward other than to believe that we are all compromised/unethical?
I've been doing this job for 21 years. Taking sexual misconduct out of the conversation I've never met a more pampered and entitled group of people on my life.

Having said the above, the gates are open now and abuses will now have a light shon on them. Good. Maybe now we can separate the wheat from the chafe.

My last Freddy deployment sealed the deal for me. We were literally blocked from our families so GO/FOs could blather on and and get seen by the press.
 

Weinie

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
572
Points
1,010
I've been doing this job for 21 years. Taking sexual misconduct out of the conversation I've never met a more pampered and entitled group of people on my life.

Having said the above, the gates are open now and abuses will now have a light shon on them. Good. Maybe now we can separate the wheat from the chafe.

My last Freddy deployment sealed the deal for me. We were literally blocked from our families so GO/FOs could blather on and and get seen by the press.
I have been doing this job for 38 years, including time in the ranks. I have never been pampered or entitled. No degree, and unilingual, worked hard to get where I am, and never thought as an Officer, the CAF owed me something.

I don't know what your last deployment has anything to do with this. Separating wheat from the chaff, I offer the latest CM schedule link below. The stats speak for themselves.

Upcoming courts martial - Canada.ca
 

Halifax Tar

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
257
Points
880
By “blather”, do you mean ‘explain to the Canadian public the crash of STALKER 22 and loss of six aviators and sailors?’
Which happened three months previous and was well reported in the press, rightfully so.

Why stand in a battered crew's way for a further hour + ?

You know what would have impressed me ? If they let the crew go and kept the command triad back for that dog an pony show. You wanna lead ? Take the hit so the unwashed masses can go on. That might have put some faith back into us.

Lets not even talk about no families on jetty mean while it's packed with every media thirsty person in the dockyard.

I have been doing this job for 38 years, including time in the ranks. I have never been pampered or entitled. No degree, and unilingual, worked hard to get where I am, and never thought as an Officer, the CAF owed me something.

I don't know what your last deployment has anything to do with this. Separating wheat from the chaff, I offer the latest CM schedule link below. The stats speak for themselves.

Upcoming courts martial - Canada.ca
Congrats you're the wheat.

I sure hope the CM schedule is weighted in favor of the NCMs. There are is something like 140 GO/FOs if they had more upcoming CMs than the NCMs we'd really be in trouble...
 

Weinie

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
572
Points
1,010
Which happened three months previous and was well reported in the press, rightfully so.

Why stand in a battered crew's way for a further hour + ?

You know what would have impressed me ? If they let the crew go and kept the command triad back for that dog an pony show. You wanna lead ? Take the hit so the unwashed masses can go on. That might have put some faith back into us.

Lets not even talk about no families on jetty mean while it's packed with every media thirsty person in the dockyard.


Congrats you're the wheat.
Then I suggest, if that is your response, that you need to get out of the CAF as soon as you possibly can. The problems in the CAF will not be rectified by your suggestions that leadership is the poison.
 

Loachman

Former Army Pilot in Drag
Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
325
Points
980
I can’t tell if you really don’t understand the figurative here, so I will spell it out. “Take the uniform off” would mean not using CAF or regimental letterhead and not using any official signature blocks.

I agree that official letterhead was inappropriate, and an official signature block may well have been as well - but signing in accordance with his position would not provide any more influence than what may have been in the text of the letter itself wherein the writer's connection to the offender was outlined.

Yes, official letterheads and rank titles will sway civilian judges who don’t understand CAF structures. But, did you read the news articles? Really? Here is one for you: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-sexual-assault-1.6004040

Yes, I read that a few days ago, and just re-read it. My postings conform with my initial and current re-reading and interpretation of what was written therein with the exception of the judge's statements, which I had forgotten.

I am sure, though, that had any medical experts have testified in the trial or written statements for sentencing purposes they, too, would have used their official stationery and signature block with a whole bunch of letters behind their names.

I also may well have missed "Schamuhn obtained a copy of the character reference letter, written on the regiment's behalf by Lt.-Col. Scott MacGregor, and shared it with CBC News". I was focussed mainly on MGen Dawe, whom I knew, and paid much less attention to LCol MacGregor, whom I do not. I also noted Col Adair because, although I have never met him, I knew and worked with his ex-wife, also a serving member.

We know these letters had influence because the judge references character from senior officers in the court documents. We know at least one was written but from a regiment (not as an individual in anyway). You keep observing that none of us have read the letters themselves, but you are stitching your arguments together like you have not even looked at what is available in public knowledge.

I have looked, and read what others have posted, some of which I agree with, and some of which I do not.

"In a written statement sent to CBC News, Dawe said he never condoned the serious offences of which Hamilton was convicted. He said he sent the letter at Hamilton's request to describe for the court his 'military accomplishments, including while deployed on combat operations.'

"'The letter also attempted to provide a sense of the member's struggles stemming from injuries - both physical and emotional - sustained as a result of his duties', Dawe wrote."

All appropriate.

"'That said, I had a responsibility to recognize all persons who were impacted by the events leading to the conviction. And in supporting one, I lost sight of the complete needs of the victim and the victim's spouse, both of whom deserved my support.'

"Dawe said he went through mediation sessions with Schamuhn and 'personally addressed' his 'lack of support' with his subordinates. He said it's clear to him now that he should have 'acknowledged the significant burden the victims were carrying and would continue to carry ...'"

A mistake that he came to recognize and admitted.

"Schamuhn said he was deeply troubled by Dawe's decision to get involved in the sentencing phase.

"'Gen. Dawe was in my chain of command,' he said. 'For him to support a violent criminal who had violated my wife, I didn't know what to do. I was shocked.'"

I have have tons of sympathy for him and his wife. They were both violated. That does not change my view that an accused - any accused - has the right to a fair trial and a fair sentencing process, wherein all relevant factors are considered.

Feelings, however, cannot be allowed to overwhelm a trial and sentence, else every offender would serve nothing less than a life sentence with daily floggings.

"'It was to affect sentencing. That's precisely the reason. I'm not going to apologize for that,' Dawe told Schamuhn, according to Schamuhn's notes."

An honest admission, with no apology required, because, as others have also explained here, influencing a sentence is precisely why these statements are accepted by the courts, just as testimony on behalf of the accused is also accepted by the courts. Any pertinent statements against a convicted person are also accepted. Testimony regarding previous crimes is generally inadmissable during a trial because it is irrelevant to determining guilt or innocence in the matter of the crime for which the accused is charged. That can be brought out in the sentencing phase, also for the purpose of influencing the sentence.

One cannot have one without the other.

"Dawe told Schamuhn that he'd had a long personal relationship with Hamilton, who worked for him when he was a commanding officer in Afghanistan, according to Schamuhn's notes."

Yes, which is why it was entirely appropriate for him to write one of the references in question.

"The notes quote Dawe saying he wasn't happy about what Hamilton had done and 'felt in some respects very bad' for Schamuhn and Annalise - but he felt Hamilton deserved a chance to not 'have his life completely thrown down the toilet' after 'the tough go he'd been through.'"

And I agree with that.

I would, most likely, feel a need to do the same.

I can despise somebody's actions, but still treat him fairly.

"'Given all that he had been subjected to in terms of his experience overseas, how frankly he was mistreated by the institution, I thought he deserved a break ...' Dawe said, according to the notes. 'I certainly don't see him as a threat to society for just a second. I think on the whole he's a pretty good guy.'"

I have no idea, beyond that statement, how he was "mistreated by the institution", but will accept it coming from somebody that I knew and respect. Appropriate punishment, yes, because of the crimes that he committed. I cannot pretend to understand what torments go on in the heads of OSI sufferers - I've only had mild twinges caused over several decades - but, from what I have personally seen as well as heard and read about - I have to accept that they are powerful and sometimes drive people to do things that they never would have done otherwise.

I am glad that we now recognize this as an illness resulting from injury and not as inherent weakness and cowardice, but there is still progress to be made there.

And that needs to be done for the benefit of those who suffer directly, and those who suffer as a result of the actions of the injured person as well.

There were no winners in this case, nor could there be. Every single person lost something. There were no perfect outcomes to be had, and no perfect actions to be taken.
 

Harris

Sr. Member
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
5
Points
330
Yes, official letterheads and rank titles will sway civilian judges who don’t understand CAF structures. But, did you read the news articles? Really? Here is one for you: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-sexual-assault-1.6004040
I witnessed a judge offer one of my soldiers two choices when found guilty of domestic abuse: Probation or Volunteer to go to Afghanistan. I was like "What?!?!?" Sure enough, the next training night (He was a reservist) I received a memo volunteering to go to Afghanistan. I declined to recommend him to the CO, but he took my minuted response and submitted it to the courts as proof he had volunteered.
 
Top