Nicola Peffers has filed a class action lawsuit against the Canadian Armed Forces.

Ex sailor files sexual assault lawsuit against Canadian Armed Forces

Ever since a Victoria-based law firm set up a hot line for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the phones have been ringing off the hook.

Ever since a Victoria-based law firm set up a hot line for current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces to report incidents of sexual assault or harassment, the phones have been ringing off the hook.

The hotline has received numerous calls day and night since it was set up by Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota law firm a week ago. The calls range from members who were subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace to sexual assault while serving in the Forces.

The hotline has become a way for the firm to mount a growing class action lawsuit against the Forces. Earlier this week, former sailor Nicola Peffers launched the lawsuit against the Forces, alleging sexual assault and harassment of female and LGBTQ members.

In the lawsuit, Peffers, who was based in CFB Esquimalt, alleges she was subjected to “systemic” discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual assault. It also alleges Forces personnel and officers were aware of and condoned an “atmosphere of misogyny and objectification of women,” and were negligent for failing to take steps to prevent the occurrences from happening.

Peffers joined the navy in 2007 at the age of 23 because she wanted to “serve her country” and be “a part of something bigger than herself,” according to documents. She alleges officers treated her as though she was inferior at her job because of her gender.

One encounter occurred two weeks into a deployment on HMCS Winnipeg, when Peffers’ said her boss made advances on her when they were alone in an isolated place. During the six-month deployment, she recorded two incidents of sexual assault and unwanted sexual touching.

Peffers was medically discharged from the navy in 2012.

Other members also allege they were subject to unwanted and non-consensual sexual contact including sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and sexual assault causing bodily harm.

Natalie Foley, Peffers’ lawyer, said her story isn’t surprising.

“There’s a systemic problem that has to be addressed. All of the individuals who have been touched by discrimination and by conduct that’s really not acceptable in our society,” said Foley, noting the number of calls they’ve received through the hot line indicates a need for the lawsuit.

“There’s clearly a need for this class action based on the recent studies that have come out that this problem has not been adequately dealt with.”

Sexual assault in the military has been pushed into the spotlight in the last few weeks.

Last year, an independent review by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps found sexual misconduct was “endemic” in the military and tolerated by the highest levels of leadership. Shortly after, Canada’s top general Jonathan Vance launched Operation Honour, aimed at ending the problem.

Most recently, a Statistics Canada study commissioned by Vance found women in the Armed Forces are four times more likely than their male counterparts to say they have been sexually assaulted over the past year, and more than 27 per cent of military women said they had been assaulted at least once since starting their careers.

It’s a culture lawyer Raj Sahota hopes to change.

“The purpose behind this lawsuit is to try to institute positive change within the Canadian Armed Forces so as to encourage a decrease or elimination of sexual harassment and assault . . . and to provide an open space for survivors of sexual assault to speak honest and tell their stories,” he said.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. A statement of defence has not been filed.

To call the hotline and join the class action lawsuit, call 1-877-275-8766.

 

Just Posted

Island Health warns of whooping cough at Esquimalt’s Macaulay Elementary

Island Health is urging parents to watch out for signs, and to keep immunizations updated

Council tags two more Oak Bay homes for bylaw infringement

Monterey homeowner covers front yard in gravel and stone

Pacific FC parts ways with head coach before season’s end

Club says the parting is mutual and takes effect immediately

Federal Election 2019: What you need to know in the Victoria riding

Meet your candidates and more information on how to cast your ballot

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Most Read