Court places publication ban on Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson’s sexual assault case

A publication ban is now in effect on one of the most high-profile military sexual assault cases that’s currently before a civilian criminal court. 

Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, the military’s former head of human resources, was charged in Dec. 2021 with sexual assault and committing indecent acts. Edmundson has previously denied any wrongdoing. 

The allegation against Edmundson are the most serious levelled against any senior leader in the Canadian Armed Forces during the recent sexual misconduct crisis.

Since early 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.

During Edmundson’s first court appearance Tuesday morning, the Crown requested a ban on identifying the complainant in his case in the media or on social media. Publication bans of this nature are routinely applied to sexual assault cases under decades-old federal law meant to encourage accusers to come forward and pursue their claims.

During the brief virtual court appearance in Ottawa, Justice of the Peace Andrew Seymour said the complainant could submit an application to have the ban lifted. 

Case adjourned to March 16

The case was adjourned until March 16 so Edmundson’s lawyer, Brian Greenspan, could review information disclosed from the prosecutor related to the charges. This move is a routine part of the process to ensure the trial process is fair to those accused of criminal offences. 

Edmundson did not appear during the court proceeding or enter his plea. 

Greenspan, who appeared on Tuesday’s conference call on his client’s behalf, has previously said that “Edmundson continues to deny any suggestion of criminal misconduct and looks forward to the opportunity to restore his distinguished reputation for service to our country.”

As the former commander of roughly 14,000 personnel, Edmundson had authority over career consequences for military members found to have engaged in sexual misconduct. His office’s mandate was also to eliminate harmful and inappropriate behaviour in the military.

One of Edmundson’s top issues was to legally comply with a class-action lawsuit against the Forces for sexual misconduct, according to the military’s website. 

Edmundson’s leadership role also involved overseeing the recruitment, training and education of troops.

Edmundson, right, used to report directly to then Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, left. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Retired general Jonathan Vance appointed Edmundson to his command post in 2019. In a separate and unrelated matter, Vance was charged criminally with obstruction of justice. Vance has denied wrongdoing. His case is scheduled to go to trial in May 2023.

The military put Edmundson on indefinite paid leave from his job as the head of human resources on March 31, 2021. 

Edmundson was later posted as a supported member at the Transition Centre Ottawa. While many military members who go to the transition group end up leaving the military, some transition back in. 

Experts who study military sexual misconduct say they can’t think of another military anywhere else in the world that has seen so many senior leaders swept up in scandal at the same time.

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