Accused sailor says he wasn’t comfortable telling police about homosexual acts

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HALIFAX — A Halifax sailor accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate told a court martial Saturday that he omitted certain details while being interviewed by military police because he did not feel comfortable talking to investigators about a homosexual encounter.

Master Seaman Daniel Cooper testified under cross-examination in a Halifax military court that his interactions with military police prior to being interviewed led him to believe they were not interested in hearing his account of the alleged incident in November 2015.

“I assure you, they weren’t interested,” Cooper said Saturday. “It’s not an easy thing to talk about, going into the details of a homosexual act with people who aren’t homosexual.”

Cooper, a naval communicator at Canadian Forces Base Halifax, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and ill treatment of a subordinate.

Prosecutor Maj. Dominic Martin questioned Cooper about what he characterized as inconsistencies between his testimony before the court martial this week and portions of a filmed interview with military police Cooper gave in March 2016.

Cooper told Military Judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf that the account he gave investigators was largely accurate, up until his description of what he says was a consensual sex act with the junior sailor.

The alleged victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, has testified that he awoke to find Cooper performing oral sex on him while the navy destroyer they served on was visiting Spain as part of a NATO exercise.

Cooper testified on Friday that after a night of drinking, he and the junior sailor went back to their sleeping quarters and, in the early hours of Nov. 10 as they were talking by the other man’s locker, he noticed that he had become aroused.

Cooper said he asked the junior sailor if he wanted to become intimate and the other man agreed. Cooper told the court martial he then followed the other man to his bunk, asking him another time if he wanted to become intimate before engaging in sexual activity.

Martin argued Saturday that this portion of Cooper’s account was “invented,” saying he went into the other man’s bunk without asking and performed oral sex on him while the alleged victim was, at times, unconscious.

Cooper, who admitted to lying to investigators about some details of the alleged incident, maintained that his testimony before the court had been truthful, especially with regard to consent.

“I did not do that,” he said. “I would not purposefully take advantage of someone while he was sleeping.”

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press