Interference Case Summary MPCC-2013-034

The Military Police (MP) Detachment received a call from the wife of a soldier, indicating her husband had sexually assaulted her young sister. Two MP members attended the residence in response to the call. One went inside and spoke with the victim and the soldier’s wife. During this time, the other MP member remained outside the residence and spoke with the soldier. The suspect spontaneously began making statements admitting he had touched his sister-in-law. The MP member arrested him and brought him to the MP Detachment. At the Detachment, the MP member conducted an interview with the suspect. The suspect provided details of the incident, and admitted to the inappropriate touching. After the interview was concluded, the suspect was placed in an open cell to sleep while the MP members determined next steps.

The next morning, the arresting MP member released the suspect to the Unit Duty Sergeant. He advised the suspect and the Duty Sergeant that the suspect was not to return to his residence, that accommodations would be provided for him by the Unit, and that Unit personnel would retrieve any personal items for him at his residence. No charges were laid, and no legal release conditions were imposed on the suspect at that time.

Two days later, the suspect was called into the Detachment for an interview. After the interview, the suspect was arrested again and was charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation. He was then released on a Promise to Appear with numerous release conditions, including not to communicate with the victim nor his wife, and to stay away from his residence.

The complainant alleged that the Warrant Officer (WO) interfered in the investigation and improperly allowed the suspect to be released after his initial arrest without any legal release conditions being imposed; and that when another MP member attempted to assist the two MP members involved in the investigation and suggested release conditions be imposed, the WO told him not to get involved and prevented him from providing assistance.

The MPCC held the investigation in abeyance while the Canadian Forces Military Police Group Professional Standards Section investigated a complaint related to the conduct of the Detachment WO in relation to the same incident. The MPCC then conducted an investigation and interviewed several witnesses, including the complainant and the subject of the complaint.

The MPCC concluded that the complainant could bring an interference complaint in this case, as he was involved in supervising the investigation, due to his position and duties. However, the MPCC found that the allegation that the Detachment WO interfered in the conduct of the investigation was unsubstantiated. While the evidence obtained by the MPCC was inconclusive as to whether the WO was responsible for the decision to release the suspect without charge or legal release conditions, the MPCC found that the release was not improper. No policies were breached, and the exercise of policing discretion by the MP members involved was reasonable in the circumstances. It was reasonable, in making a discretionary decision about whether and when to charge an individual and impose release conditions, to take into account the reality on the ground and all circumstances. In this case, the suspect was released to his Unit and, during the two days prior to his re-arrest, the conditions imposed through the Unit achieved all the same purposes as legal release conditions.

The MPCC found that another MP member did attempt to provide assistance to the members involved in the investigation and expressed disagreement with the proposed course of action discussed, but then did not get involved further when he saw that his intervention was not welcomed by the WO. Due to the contradictions in the evidence and the lack of records, the MPCC could not conclude that the WO was specifically aware of the decision to release the suspect without charge or legal release conditions, or that his response to the MP member who attempted to get involved was specifically related to this issue. However, since the MPCC found the decision to release the suspect was not improper, it was not necessary to make a determination on this point.

The MPCC found that any decisions made by the WO in relation to the release of the suspect did not result in errors or inappropriate conduct in the investigation. Further, the MPCC found there was no evidence indicating the WO was acting for an improper purpose or outside of his role and duties as an MP supervisor. As a result, his conduct did not amount to improper interference under the National Defence Act. In light of this finding, the MPCC made no recommendations in this Report.

In response to the Commission’s report, the Chief of the Defence Staff agreed with the Commission’s finding.

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