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Canadian soldier grilled by defence at Quebec sex-assault court martial

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QUEBEC - A Canadian soldier was accused on Friday of using a female subordinate as an "open bar" for his sexual gratification.

Warrant officer Andre Gagnon was grilled by the defence at his court martial on a sexual assault charge.

Lawyer Marylene Trudel argued that Gagnon used his superior rank to coerce the young woman into sex acts.

Gagnon faces one count under Sec. 130 of the National Defence Act as well as the Criminal Code section corresponding to sexual assault.

Stephanie Raymond, who served as a corporal under Gagnon, says he made advances, engaged in sexual touching and attempted to get oral sex after a holiday party in December 2011.

The alleged victim has said she initially went along with his actions because she feared later reprisals.

Raymond, who has insisted her name not be protected under a publication ban, filed a complaint against Gagnon and was subsequently discharged by the army.

Gagnon testified Thursday that Raymond was the initiator and straddled him when they were alone in a room at the Regiment de la Chaudiere armoury in Levis, Que., after the party where there had been considerable drinking.

He says she consented to sexual activities that included fondling, kissing and receiving oral sex. Gagnon said she only objected when he attempted to penetrate her and he stopped at that point.

"For you, a woman has to resist if she doesn't want to have sexual relations?" Trudel asked Gagnon during two hours of cross-examination on Friday.

"The moment she doesn't do anything, it's an open bar for you?" she said.

Gagnon testified that Raymond agreed to join him to sit on the floor of an empty room at the armoury to "relax and sober up." It was at this point, he said, that she straddled him.

Gagnon said he interpreted this as an expression of openness and said Raymond remained passive and did not return any of the sexual touching.

"A piece of wood on the floor, wasn't that boring?" Trudel asked Gagnon.

Gagnon replied: "I didn't know what kind of woman she was."

If found guilty, he faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars.

The cross-examination ended Friday and closing arguments will begin Monday.

The military court martial is being overseen by a colonel in front of a panel of five soldiers. It is similar to a civilian criminal trial before a jury.

The proceedings are being handled by a court martial because both Gagnon and Raymond were in the Canadian Forces at the time of the incident, although Raymond is now a full-time student. It is also under military jurisdiction because the alleged crime happened at a Canadian Forces installation.

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