Military officer taking legal action against DND over sex assault investigation
Lt.-Col. Mason Stalker appears in this handout image.
Published Friday, May 5, 2017 6:35PM EDT
A high-ranking military officer has launched legal action against the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, alleging that military police were negligent in investigating “false and malicious” sexual assault allegations against him.
In 2015, Lt.-Col. Mason Stalker, 42, was charged with multiple offences, including sexual assault and sexual exploitation, involving a military cadet in Edmonton. The charges were related to events that allegedly took place between 1998 and 2007.
After he was charged and released on bail, Stalker was removed from command of the Edmonton-based 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
Last November, the Alberta Crown dropped all charges against Stalker, saying there was “no longer a reasonable likelihood of securing a conviction.”
Stalker had maintained his innocence all along, calling the experience a “nightmare.”
In a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday, Stalker alleges the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) conducted a “negligent investigation” into “false and malicious criminal allegations.”
Stalker claims the military police laid 10 charges against him after interviewing “a small number of witnesses” who “provided no corroboration” to the complainant’s allegations.
He alleges the charges against him “lacked any evidentiary basis” and that the complainant’s allegations did not match up with the known timeline of Stalker’s service in the military.
“A proper, professional and competent investigation prior to (Stalker’s) arrest would have clearly indicated that the allegations made against the Plaintiff could not have possibly been true,” the statement of claim says.
Stalker also alleges that the military issued an “inaccurate” and “condemning” media release after his arrest, which made it look like multiple complainants were involved.
He also claims that the CFNIS investigation is “still ongoing,” despite the fact that the Crown has withdrawn all charges against him.
Stalker says the criminal charges against him and the publicity surrounding the case have hurt his career, reputation and mental health. He is seeking a total of $8 million in damages.
None of the allegations in his statement of claim have been tested in court.
Stalker, whose military career spans more than two decades, served in Afghanistan in 2006 and again from June 2010 until October 2011. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2007 and 2012 for his efforts in Afghanistan.
In a statement to CTV News, a DND spokesperson Lt. Blake Patterson said it was the Alberta Crown prosecutor who withdraw the charges after deciding there was “no reasonable likelihood of conviction” and it was “not in the public interest to proceed.”
“The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is confident the investigation of this matter was thorough, professional and provided grounds, supported by the Crown Prosecutor, to proceed to prosecution at the time of charge,” Patterson said. “Any subsequent decision to withdraw the charges rests with the Alberta Crown Prosecutor and it would be inappropriate for Military Police to provide further comment.”
With files from The Canadian Press