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

Ucluelet shakes up emergency services, removes manager, eyes new sirens

District has eliminated Emergency and Environmental Manager position

Port Alberni’s Walk for Dog Guides has a new look, new route

Bosley’s comes on board as sponsor for May 27 event

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

The famed Martin Mars air tankers continue to draw interest from potential… Continue reading

Alberni RCMP officers honoured for taking drunk driver off the streets

Constables Brian Kenny, Rob Jackson named to Alexa’s Team

Port Alberni man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road on first day of May long weekend

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

B.C. man facing deportation says terror accusation left him traumatized

Othman Hamdan was acquitted of terrorism-related charges by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in September

Will Taylor Swift’s high concert ticket prices stop scalpers?

Move by artist comes as B.C. looks to how to regulate scalpers and bots reselling concert tickets

36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

As warmer weather nears, chief fire officer Kevin Skrepnek says too soon to forecast summer

Ariana Grande sends message of hope on anniversary of Manchester bombing

Prince William joins survivors and emergency workers for remembrance service

B.C. flood risk switches from snowmelt to rainfall: River Forecast Centre

Kootenays and Fraser River remain serious concerns

Pipeline more important than premiers meeting: Notley

“Canada has to work for all Canadians, that’s why we’re fighting for the pipeline”

Canadian government spending tens of millions on Facebook ads

From January 2016 to March 2018, feds spent more than $24.4 million on Facebook and Instagram ads

Most Read