Master Seaman Daniel Cooper’s hearing was scheduled to resume Thursday afternoon, but a nor’easter knocked out power to the building that houses the military court, so proceedings will resume Friday. Accused Master Seaman Daniel Cooper, right, arrives for his standing court martial case in Halifax on Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ted Pritchard

Accused sailor testifies sex on Canadian destroyer was consensual

Incident happened aboard HMCS Athabaskan while the destroyer was visiting Spain on Nov. 9, 2015

A Halifax sailor accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate testified Friday that the sex was consensual, as he took the stand in his own defence at his court martial.

Master Seaman Daniel Cooper testified in a Halifax military court that he had asked the leading seaman — who was an ordinary seaman at the time of the alleged incident — if he wanted to become intimate, and that he agreed.

“As far as I could tell … he was receptive to what I was proposing,” said Cooper, who is accused of a sexual assaulting the subordinate aboard HMCS Athabaskan while the destroyer was visiting Spain as part of a NATO exercise on Nov. 9, 2015.

Cooper told Military Judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf that the men had been drinking at a hotel and restaurant in Rota, Spain, and later had more drinks in the ship’s cafeteria.

“(He) sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulder,” said Cooper, adding that the man then asked him if he was gay.

“I was a little taken aback because I didn’t know him very well. It’s not something I was very open about to people in the department.”

He said when they eventually went to their sleeping quarters in the early hours of Nov. 10, he noticed the junior sailor — whose name is protected by a publication ban — had become aroused as they were talking near the bunks, and so he asked if he wanted to engage in sexual activity.

Cooper, a naval communicator at Canadian Forces Base Halifax, said the man responded “Yes,” and then he followed him to his bunk, asking him another time if he wanted to become intimate before climbing into the bunk with him.

“I generally prefer not to get involved with people from work. But I was drunk and inhibitions were relaxed,” he said.

He said he performed oral sex on the subordinate, and that the man never told him to stop until about 10 minutes later when he sat up and said, “I’m not gay,” at which point Cooper said he immediately returned to his own bunk.

Cooper has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and ill treatment of a subordinate.

Prosecutor Maj. Dominic Martin opened his cross-examination by showing portions of an interview Cooper gave to an investigator in March 2016.

In the video, Cooper denies any sexual activity took place between him and the alleged victim.

Most details in his account of day in question were consistent with his testimony on the stand, but he told the investigator he went directly to bed after they arrived in the sleeping quarters.

On Wednesday, the alleged victim told the military court he woke up in his bunk to a superior sailor performing oral sex on him. He said it was dark and he couldn’t really see, but the person performing the act was repeating a sexual phrase to him, and he recognized the voice to be that of Cooper.

He became emotional in the courtroom as he spoke about fearing for his safety and attempting to alert a crew member in the bunk below him — but he said his pleas for help went unanswered.

“I said, ‘I think I’m getting raped’ … But he didn’t believe me. His response was, ‘You’re drunk and I have duty in a few hours. Go back to bed’,” he said.

Earlier Friday, the sailor from the lower bunk was called to the stand by prosecutor Capt. Erica Maidment.

The able seaman — who was an ordinary seaman at the time — testified that he remembered the alleged victim attempting to wake him up on the morning in question.

“I thought he was just being drunk and stupid,” he told the court. “I just told him to stop.”

The sailor said the commotion lasted for about 5 or 10 minutes, but later said under cross-examination by defence lawyer Maj. Philippe-Luc Boutin that it lasted for about 15 or 20 minutes.

The alleged victim had told the court the incident lasted a few minutes.

The bunkmate also said he heard moaning, “like he was trying to get attention … not pain or pleasure,” and eventually saw a pair of legs come out of the rack above him. That’s when he asked the fellow sailor what had happened.

“He seemed to be in shock more than anything,” he said, adding the sailor said someone had been performing oral sex on him.

He said the two men then reported the incident to a superior.

Military commanders have promised to crack down on sexual misconduct in the ranks since retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps reported in April 2015 that she had found an “underlying sexual culture” in the military.

Military police received 193 reports of sexual assault in 2017, more than twice the 93 reported in 2014. There have also been more charges, with 44 in 2016 compared to 24 in 2014.

Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Chilliwack Lions Club has a new place to call home

After more than five years without a headquarters, Chilliwack Lions Club moves into new hall

Sardis Falcons top Heritage Woods in field lacrosse opener

The Falcons rallied from a halftime hole to take a big win on the road in Port Moody.

Chilliwack prolific offender charged in four alleged incidents in 12 days

Branden Tanner busted for alleged smash-and-grab Nov. 30, then incidents Dec. 3, Dec. 8 and Dec. 11

Four companies vying to open cannabis stores in locations across Chilliwack

Rezoning applications for non-medical cannabis outlets pending, and some will require variances

Christmas cheer, crafts and music at Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries

Make festive ornaments out of old books while enjoying Christmas music at Chilliwack libraries

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

Hundreds attend Hells Angels funeral in Maple Ridge

Body of Chad John Wilson found last month face-down under the Golden Ears Bridge.

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Gas prices to climb 11 cents overnight in Lower Mainland

Hike of 17 cents in less than 48 hours due to unexpected shutdown of Washington state pipeline

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

Most Read