Senior military official steps aside months after start of sexual misconduct investigation

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The Canadian Armed Forces’ commander of military personnel is under investigation for sexual misconduct and has stepped aside from the role.

The military confirmed late Friday that Lt.-Gen. Steven Whelan is facing an allegation of sexual misconduct that has been under investigation since at least June 2.

He remained in the senior role for more than four months after acting chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre learned of the investigation.

The CAF said that Whelan “was not to be made aware of it due to possible impacts on the investigation,” which in ongoing.

“Given recent developments, after discussing with the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, LGen Whelan agrees he must step aside as the Commander, Military Personnel, effective immediately,” the CAF statement continued.

The Globe and Mail first reported news of the investigation into Whelan.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the investigative branch of the military police, confirmed in a separate statement that it is investigating the allegation but said that no further information could be released.

The military is in the midst of an ongoing sexual misconduct crisis, and several senior leaders facing allegations have been put on leave with pay.

Canada’s former top military commander, retired general Jonathan Vance, is charged with one count of obstruction of justice in relation to an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct that he denies.

His successor, Admiral Art McDonald, was placed on leave over an investigation into sexual misconduct claims that he denied and that didn’t lead to criminal charges.

Maj.-Gen. Peter Dawe, who once provided a character reference for a soldier being sentenced for sexual assault, was recently tapped for a key role in the military’s response to sexual misconduct before his appointment was rescinded.

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