The man who was initially in charge of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine response was charged with one count of sexual assault Wednesday.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin has denied wrongdoing. He is not commenting on the charge, he told reporters Wednesday, but will “vigorously defend” himself in criminal court.
The allegation is likely related to an interaction from over 30 years ago, he said. CBC News reported the alleged incident is believed to have taken place between Jan. 1 and April 30 in 1988.
“I learned about the general nature of the allegation from a reporter shortly after I was released from my job,” Fortin said, adding that for months, he hasn't known the nature or status of the investigation, and if he would be charged.
In May, Fortin was abruptly dismissed from his position leading Canada’s vaccine rollout. Five days later, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service appealed to the Quebec prosecution service to determine whether or not Fortin should be charged.
Fortin is now engaged in a separate battle, arguing he was dismissed from his post overseeing the country’s vaccine campaign without due process. On Wednesday, he said he believes the decision to dismiss him from his job was “political calculus.” A hearing is slated for Sept. 28 and 29.
The Canadian military has been accused of having a systemic sexual assault and harassment problem, and even faced a class-action lawsuit that ended in a settlement and resulted in more than 8,000 claimants. Earlier this year, former chief of defence staff General Jonathan Vance and his successor, Admiral Art McDonald, also faced sexual misconduct allegations.
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