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Navy chief petty officer acquitted of sexually assaulting crewmate in Vancouver harbour

David Wilson said he twice asked for and received consent for sexual activity.
Vancouver Provincial Court
Vancouver Provincial Courthouse

Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be distressing to some readers.

A Canadian Armed Forces chief petty officer has been acquitted of the sexual assault of a commissioned officer crewmate. 

David Leslie Joseph Wilson, 44, had pleaded not guilty to the charge and elected for a judge-only trial.

Vancouver provincial court Judge Nancy Adams heard during the October trial the ship was docked in Vancouver harbour performing operations before the 2010 Winter Olympics. The name of the ship, dates and times are possible identifiers of the alleged victim and are covered by a publication ban. 

The woman had testified to having eight to 10 drinks onboard but had declined to go ashore to go clubbing, saying she was tired. She said she had asked him to wake her up to continue partying. 

The assault took place when he woke her, she alleged. The woman testified that she said ‘no’ repeatedly during the alleged incident in February 2009. 

Wilson, however, said he sought and received her consent twice. 

“He testified that she never said no,” Adams said. 

The case came down to issues of credibility, the judge said in her decision. 

She said Wilson was straightforward and expressed regret for what had occurred. 

“He appeared worried but rarely became emotional,” Adams said. “I have no reason to reject his evidence for what happened in the cabin that night.” 

Moreover, Adams said, Wilson was candid about the fact he had cheated on his wife before and after the incident. 

The judge said she preferred Wilson’s evidence to that of the woman. Adams said the complainant’s story shifted after her initial statement in the investigation. The judge said the court had been offered no reasonable explanation for improvements in the woman’s memory. 

“The Crown has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said. 

Under questioning from Crown prosecutor Joanna Medjuck on Oct. 24, the woman testified various members of the crew were having a drink in a mess when she and Wilson struck up a conversation that lasted about half an hour. 

Wilson testified the woman had been dancing with another man when he entered the mess. 

“She was drunk and friendly,” he said, later adding she began dancing with him. 

“She was directly in front of me pressing her body against me,” he said. 

Wilson testified he soon left to join others leaving the ship. He asked her if she wished to join them but she refused. 

He said she left the mess just after he did and they proceeded to a lower deck where their cabins were close to each other. 

At his cabin, he said, they began kissing. Then, he said, she performed oral sex on him. He said he told her to stop three or four times because he was afraid of getting caught. 

Wilson said he then left the ship to go ashore with others. He soon returned without telling his group he was leaving, he said. 

Wilson told the court that, on his return, he went to the woman’s cabin, knocked and did not get a response. He said she had given him permission to wake her on return to the ship to continue the party after she had napped. 

The woman testified she did not hear him come in, and that when Wilson did, he began touching her. 

“I asked her if I could get into bed with her she said, ‘Yes,’ ” he said. 

“I took her removing her pants as consent,” he said. 

Wilson denied the woman’s testimony that he had pulled her hair, held her head in a pillow or held her down. 

The next day, he asked her to come to his office but she didn’t turn up. They talked soon after. 

“She opened by saying, ‘We all get horny but you can’t just jump into my bunk,’ ” Wilson said. “I was flabbergasted.” 

The judge said that was a key moment given everything else that came before. 

“She had clearly forgotten much of the evening of the night before by midday,” Adams said. “What else has she forgotten?”