Pte. Justin Chenier was exhausted from a day of heavy manoeuvres in August, 1994, at CFB Wainwright’s battle school. He had gone to bed early and was in a deep sleep when he was awakened by an oozing liquid running down the side of his face. Five members of his platoon stood over his bed laughing, bragging that they had just hazed him with a cocktail of urine, semen and saliva. But Chenier didn’t laugh. He complained to a superior officer who called the 11 members of Chenier’s unit into his office and made them do push-ups until the offending five had admitted what they had done. The men were charged with minor offences, but for Chenier, who is now married and lives in Richmond Hill,
Ont., it wasn’t enough. “Emotionally, I broke down after this happened,” he said. “I lost my trust in the guys I was supposed to be going to war with.”
in Pembroke, Ont. this September. But a source close to that investigation said superiors on the base tried to hush up the assaults to "prevent another scandal.” In fact, the OPP was not called in to investigate the allegations—but became aware of them only when investigators arrived at the base in connection with another incident. “If it hadn’t been for that, this would have been swept under the rug,” says the source.
After complaining, Chenier found himself struggling to overcome the same obstacles to his career that military women have described facing when they spoke out about abuse. After four months with the infantry, he says he asked to be re-mustered to another trade. When his superiors refused his request, he left the military. “My biggest mistake was saying something,” he now says. “There’s no system set up to lodge a complaint without losing your career. This is a widespread problem for men as well as women.”
Men can also be subjected to sexual abuse. In May and September of 1996, at CFB Petawawa, two male members of the military were allegedly sexually assaulted—one sodomized—by a fellow serviceman who is still working on the base. Charges have been laid by Chenier: making a complaint and the Ontario Provincial Police, suffering the consequences and the case will come to trial
Another male soldier who says he was recently raped by a fellow serviceman told Maclean's he is afraid to come forward with charges against his assailant—who he claims has raped other soldiers—for fear of reprisals. He says he wants to write a letter to Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Maurice Baril, but is worried that he will be punished if his senior officers discover he has gone “outside the chain of command.” He was also angered last week when he heard Defence Minister Art Eggleton say that the incidence of sexual assault was no greater in the military than in the civilian world. “It’s not true,” he says. “I wanted to phone him and ask him how the hell he knew that. He’s not in the barracks, he’s not living on these bases.”
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