A retired former main with Canada’s particular forces says he felt betrayed after senior army leaders gave constructive character references to a soldier discovered responsible of sexually assaulting his spouse — whereas providing no help to his household.
Kevin Schamuhn’s regiment and a deputy commander in his chain of command, Maj.-Gen. Peter Dawe, submitted letters to a decide in 2017 previous to a sentencing listening to for Maj. Jonathan Hamilton.
On Could 2, 2017, a decide discovered Hamilton responsible on six legal counts, together with unlawfully getting into the Schamuhns’ house and sexually assaulting Schamuhn’s spouse Annalise on two separate events. Hamilton was additionally discovered responsible of bodily assaulting Schamuhn twice.
Schamuhn mentioned that when he confronted Dawe about it, he acknowledged he needed to affect sentencing and felt Hamilton was a “good man” who deserved a break.
“It was an especially painful betrayal,” Schamuhn mentioned. “By far, worse than something I had ever skilled in fight.
“Of all of the enemies I fought abroad, none of them have that stage of entry to my private life and to the vulnerability of my household.”
Kevin and Annalise Schamuhn are sharing their story publicly for the primary time, saying they wish to drive change within the army by exposing how the chain of command dealt with their case.
The couple mentioned Dawe and different senior officers didn’t seek the advice of with them earlier than writing the letters and gave an institutional go to somebody they believed was struggling with post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
Dawe is presently the commander of the Canadian Particular Operation Forces.
“I consider that by way of this expertise, Gen. Dawe misplaced his ethical authority to steer the Particular Forces,” mentioned Schamuhn.
In a written assertion despatched to CBC Information, Dawe mentioned he by no means condoned the intense offences of which Hamilton was convicted. He mentioned he despatched the letter at Hamilton’s request to explain for the courtroom his “army accomplishments, together with whereas deployed on fight operations.”
“The letter additionally tried to supply a way of the member’s struggles stemming from accidents — each bodily and emotional — sustained because of his duties,” Dawe wrote.
“That mentioned, I had a accountability to acknowledge all individuals who have been impacted by the occasions resulting in the conviction. And in supporting one, I overpassed the entire wants of the sufferer and the sufferer’s partner, each of whom deserved my help.”
Dawe mentioned it is clear to him now that he ought to have “acknowledged the numerous burden the victims have been carrying and would proceed to hold …”
Schamuhn mentioned he was deeply troubled by Dawe’s determination to become involved within the sentencing part.
“Gen. Dawe was in my chain of command,” he mentioned. “For him to help a violent legal who had violated my spouse, I did not know what to do. I used to be shocked.”
Schamuhn mentioned he spoke to Dawe in regards to the letter by cellphone on Sept. 30, 2017 and took detailed notes of the dialog, which he shared with CBC Information.
“It was to have an effect on sentencing. That is exactly the rationale. I am not going to apologize for that,” Dawe instructed Schamuhn, in accordance with Schamuhn’s notes.
Dawe instructed Schamuhn that he’d had an extended private relationship with Hamilton, who labored for him when he was a commanding officer in Afghanistan, in accordance with Schamuhn’s notes.
The notes quote Dawe saying he wasn’t blissful about what Hamilton had accomplished and “felt in some respects very dangerous” for Schamuhn and Annalise — however he felt Hamilton deserved an opportunity to not “have his life utterly thrown down the bathroom” after “the robust go he’d been by way of.”
“Given all that he had been subjected to when it comes to his expertise abroad, how frankly he was mistreated by the establishment, I believed he deserved a break …” Dawe mentioned, in accordance with the notes. “I definitely do not see him as a menace to society for only a second. I believe on the entire he is a reasonably good man.”
Choose cited character references in sentencing
The case was prosecuted by way of civilian courtroom. Based on courtroom paperwork, the decide mentioned throughout Hamilton’s sentencing listening to in August, 2017 that high-level army personnel had supplied character references that described him as “a person of nice character and management earlier than being engulfed in PTSD” ensuing from a number of deployments to Afghanistan.
The courtroom paperwork say Justice Larry O’Brien reported that the letters “candidly provided” that Hamilton returned to obligation abroad with out following the right protocol to scale back his operational stress damage.
O’Brien mentioned Hamilton had a “distinguished previous” and had been coping with quite a lot of stress. O’Brien sentenced Hamilton to 3 years’ probation slightly than jail time. O’Brien additionally positioned him on a intercourse offender registry and required him to bear therapy and group service.
Hamilton was later sentenced to 3 years in custody for a separate, unrelated sexual assault case.
WATCH: Retired army couple describes ‘painful betrayal’ following sexual assault
The Schamuhns mentioned they consider the letters from Hamilton’s commanders influenced the sentencing course of. They are saying PTSD shouldn’t be provided up as an excuse for sexual assault.
“There’s quite a lot of troopers who’ve gone by way of actually horrible experiences and had PTSD and misplaced their marriages, and so they by no means used it as an excuse to sexually assault anyone,” mentioned Annalise.
Megan MacKenzie is the Simons Chair in Worldwide Legislation and Human Safety at Simon Fraser College. She factors to a U.S. research of service members dealing with trial; it concluded that none of these identified with PTSD have been discovered unfit for trial. A proposed invoice within the U.S. would permit the courts to think about PTSD as a mitigating issue when sentencing army veterans.
Annalise Schamuhn testified in courtroom that she was sexually assaulted by Hamilton, a longtime household buddy and neighbour in Kingston, Ont.
Hamilton and Kevin Schamuhn served in the identical regiment; they each deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and had a variety of related postings throughout Canada all through their careers.
Annalise, who is also a retired military logistics officer, mentioned Schamuhn was out of city on coaching in 2013 when she awoke to seek out Hamilton in her mattress.
“He acquired into my mattress and tried to have intercourse with me,” Schamuhn instructed CBC Information. “Within the second, it was scary as a result of I did not know what was going to occur.”
Regiment despatched letter on Hamilton’s behalf
Previous to sentencing, Schamuhn mentioned he was blindsided to study that his personal regiment, the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Gentle Infantry (PPCLI), additionally despatched a constructive character reference letter about Hamilton to the decide previous to sentencing.
Schamuhn obtained a duplicate of the character reference letter, written on the regiment’s behalf by Lt.-Col. Scott MacGregor, and shared it with CBC Information.
The letter, which was submitted to courtroom two weeks after Hamilton was discovered responsible, says the army awarded him a fight ornament for his function in confronting rebel forces in Afghanistan in 2006 and a sacrifice medal after he was wounded by shrapnel in an assault.
MacGregor’s letter known as Hamilton an “innate chief” and a specialist in reconnaissance.
Within the letter, MacGregor described Hamilton’s sexual assault case as an “remoted authorized incident” and claimed “Hamilton had by no means been a part of a state of affairs that questioned his judgment, character or behaviour.”
Schamuhn mentioned he requested the PPCLI’s regimental colonel on the time, Jay Adair, to rescind or edit the letter to incorporate the info about his service and nothing extra. He mentioned Adair shook his hand and instructed him the regiment had his again, however then left the letter submitted to the courtroom unchanged.
“It made the sensation of betrayal a lot worse,” mentioned Schamuhn. “This was the primary time I requested for one thing that meant a lot and we have been disregarded to dry.”
In a written assertion issued to CBC Information, MacGregor mentioned the letter was requested by Hamilton’s defence council and was meant to stipulate his skilled efficiency.
“Whereas it was seen as a procedural formality on the time, I acknowledge that it was personally hurtful to Kevin, which I remorse,” mentioned MacGregor.
Adair has not responded to CBC’s request for remark.
Retired colonel Rory Fowler, a former army lawyer now in personal follow, mentioned it is common for a army member accused of sexual assault, or their defence counsel, to hunt and procure character references from commanding officers for the needs of sentencing.
“It’s not exceptional for a CF member, tried by a civilian courtroom, no matter offence, to acquire character references as a part of the sentencing course of,” he mentioned, including that such letters do not at all times have a lot of an influence on the sentence.
Schamuhn mentioned he later discovered from one other senior officer of one other occasion when Dawe tried to defend a soldier from penalties in a sexual misconduct case.
He mentioned the senior member instructed him they have been dismayed to study of Dawe’s intervention in Hamilton’s case after he was spoken to about his “blindspot.”
Criticism filed with chief of defence workers
Months after the sentencing, Schamuhn mentioned, he took his issues on to Gen. Jonathan Vance, then the chief of the defence workers.
“I consider the choice to help a violent, convicted intercourse offender is in direct contravention of the orders you gave and permits the continuation of dangerous and inappropriate legal behaviour inside the CAF,” Schamuhn wrote in a letter of grievance to Vance on Oct 9, 2017.
Vance responded that he had seemed into the matter and located Schamuhn’s objection “has benefit.”
“The actions you convey to my consideration in your letter are inconsistent with my route and with Op HONOUR,” wrote Vance on Nov. 22, 2017.
Vance wrote that those that drafted the letters didn’t accomplish that out of malice, nor did they absolutely ponder the potential influence on the army. Vance mentioned he would come with route and coaching supplies in Operation Honour explaining how help must be supplied to CAF members awaiting trial and sentencing for sexual misconduct.
“I’m assured that the actions I’ve taken each immediately deal with your grievance and make sure the incidents of this nature won’t be repeated with out extreme repercussions sooner or later,” wrote Vance in his letter.
The Schamuhns mentioned they really feel that response fell quick.
“Simply including one other rule or one other coverage is not going to essentially change the truth that we’re in a tradition that enables individuals to tolerate sexual misconduct,” mentioned Annalise.
Requested by CBC Information whether or not Vance made modifications to Operation Honour in response to Schamuhn’s grievance, a DND spokesperson mentioned solely that the division doesn’t “have a duplicate of a directive or every other data to supply at the moment.”
CBC additionally requested DND why Dawe and Adair have been promoted to new duties following Hamilton’s courtroom case. “On the subject of MGen Dawe and Col Adair,” mentioned the division assertion, “they’re each excellent officers who’ve been promoted by way of exhausting work and benefit.”
‘Turning a blind eye’
MacKenzie mentioned the Schamuhns’ case “utterly undermines” the army’s declare that it has a zero tolerance coverage on sexual assault.
She mentioned there is a darkish aspect to the “band of brothers” mentality within the army — particularly within the extremely secretive Particular Forces, the place there is a code of silence and an expectation that troopers will defend one another in any respect prices.
“There’s now widespread proof now that senior leaders within the army not solely could also be accused of sexual assault, however now are form of turning a blind eye or truly defending perpetrators,” she mentioned.
Annalise Schamuhn mentioned she left the army as a consequence of an general tradition of harassment, bullying and sexual misconduct. She mentioned she did not really feel prefer it was a protected place for her any longer.
“You are handled such as you’re the problem,” mentioned Annalise. “Such as you’re too delicate, you are elevating an issue.”