National Defence says 30 people punished for sexual misconduct in military ranks

Previous reports stated sexual assaults were ignored, played down

OTTAWA (CP) — The Canadian Armed Forces says it is making progress in the fight against sexual misconduct in the ranks, but much more work needs to be done.

In an update Tuesday, the military said it completed 51 investigations into inappropriate sexual behaviour between April and July.

As a result, 30 people had received ``career-impacting'' punishments ranging from fines to outright dismissal from the forces. Three more were referred to civilian authorities while the perpetrators in four cases could not be identified.

Ten cases were considered unfounded.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance, who has made the elimination of sexual misconduct a priority, described the results as a "good start.'' He said military personnel ``have heard my orders, they understand them, and they are implementing them.''

But Vance acknowledged much work remains to be done after the report showed there were 97 reports of inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviour over the same period. He warned military personnel about being ``overly optimistic'' about the results, and said there are ``no quick fixes'' to the problem.

Military commanders asked retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps to lead an independent investigation into the issue in April 2014 after l'Actualite and Maclean's magazines reported a large number of military sexual assaults were being ignored or played down.

Deschamps's explosive report, released in April 2015, described an "underlying sexual culture'' in the military that was hostile to women and left victims of sexual assault and harassment to fend for themselves.

In response, military leaders promised to take immediate action to root out unacceptable behaviour.

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