Former head of military HR, accused of sexual assault, goes on trial today

The sexual assault trial of retired vice-admiral Haydn Edmundson, the military’s former head of human resources, begins today in an Ottawa courtroom, more than 30 years after the attack is alleged to have occurred

Edmundson, who later resigned as head of military personnel command and retired from Canada’s Armed Forces, was charged in December 2021 with one count of sexual assault and once count of committing indecent acts.

During Edmundson’s arraignment, the court heard that the alleged assault took place on HMCS Provider when it was docked at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, in September through November 1991.

Edmundson has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer, Brian Greenspan, has said his client looks forward to restoring his client’s “distinguished reputation for service to our country.”

Edmundson is being tried in the Ontario Court of Justice by a judge alone. His trial in a civilian court follows recommendations by former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour who, in a damning 2022 report about sexual misconduct in the military, called for civilian police and courts to handle all sexual assault cases involving allegations against military members 

Edmundson was one of several high-profile military members to be accused of sexual misconduct in early 2021, kicking off a crisis that led to the external investigation of the Forces.

Edmundson’s former responsibilities included eliminating harmful and inappropriate behaviour in the military. His leadership role also involved overseeing the recruitment, training and education of troops.

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