A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder. LARS HAGBERG / THE CANADIAN PRESS, FILE

Dozens of uniformed soldiers packed a sweltering, makeshift courtroom at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton to hear testimony Thursday from a military doctor accused of sexually assaulting a colleague.

Capt. Steven Nordstrom, 33, told a military court martial he believed the sexual encounter he had with the female colleague during a training course in 2015 was entirely consensual.

He disputed claims made by the complainant — identified only as J.L. under a court-ordered publication ban — including that he repeatedly grabbed her buttocks and genitals during an after-hours social event at a Toronto pub.

“Absolutely not true; that’s not something I’d ever do,” he said.

Nordstrom faces once charge of sexual assault and one of assault stemming from the incidents, which allegedly occurred in the Toronto area on Feb. 20, 2015, and March 14, 2015.

Nordstrom started as a member of the Canadian Forces in medical school 17 years ago and was posted to CFB Shilo in Manitoba in July 2013. He works at a local clinic there and is a member of 1 Field Ambulance.

In 2015, he was selected to attend a multi-week operational flight surgeon training course split between Toronto, CFB Trenton and CFB Cold Lake.

During the course, he met J.L., with whom he developed a friendly relationship. They discussed their children, swapped texts and traded jokes about an eccentric instructor. During a flight between Edmonton and Toronto during the course, he testified J.L. fell asleep on his shoulder.

J.L., who has since left the military, alleges Nordstrom sexually assaulted her during an evening social event that began with a scotch tasting at a Toronto pub. J.L. told court earlier this week that Nordstrom repeatedly touched her inappropriately, including putting his hands up her skirt.

The two later went to the Brass Rail strip club, and then back to her hotel room where J.L. alleged he undressed her, then forced himself on her, placing an arm around her neck.

J.L. fought back tears when she told court Monday that she feared for her life.

Nordstrom told a different story, saying the two had made out throughout the evening and that she led him to the hotel room, where he performed oral sex on her. They stopped short of intercourse when J.L. became upset, saying she was married. Nordstrom said he then got dressed and the two parted on “friendly” terms.

Maj. Chavi Walsh, one of the prosecutors, sought the court’s permission to examine an earlier family court proceeding in which Nordstrom addressed the charges before the court martial.

Walsh told the court that an affidavit Nordstrom gave in that case did not match up with testimony he gave in the court martial.

The court also reviewed text messages sent between the two during the course.

“Credibility is a central issue in this case,” Walsh told military judge Cmdr. Martin Pelletier.

Walsh added that Nordstrom earlier broke the conditions of his release by consuming alcohol at a going-away party for a friend.

The proceedings began Monday and were expected to run for five days.

Military courts operate separately from civilian courts. Military judges preside over courts martial, which are designed to deal with serious offences by service members. Courts martial have the same rights, powers and privileges as superior courts.

The Canadian Forces launched Operation Honour in August 2015 to eliminate sexual assault and misconduct in the military.

Q: Why does the Hawaii Army Weekly publish courts-martial findings?

A: The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate releases the results of recent courts-martial for publication to inform the community of military justice trends and to deter future misconduct by Soldiers. 


WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii — The following personnel received courts-martial through the Staff Judge Advocate, 25th Infantry Division.

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• On 29 May 2018, at a special court-martial convened, here, Spc. Brayden R. Williams, U.S. Army, was convicted by a military judge, pursuant to his pleas, of one specification of larceny of military property and one specification of false official statement in violation of Articles 121 and 107, UCMJ.

The military judge sentenced the accused to be confined for 30 days and to be discharged from the service with a bad conduct discharge. As part of an offer to plead guilty, the convening authority agreed to disapprove any adjudged discharge.

• On 18 May 2018, at a general court-martial convened, here, Spc. Joel C. Vanta, U.S. Army, was convicted by a military panel composed of officers and enlisted members, contrary to his pleas, of one specification of false official statement and one specification of abusive sexual contact in violation of Articles 107 and 120, UCMJ.

The accused was acquitted of one specification of attempted sexual assault, one specification of abusive sexual contact, and one specification of sexual assault in violation of Articles 80 and 120, UCMJ.

The members sentenced the accused to be reprimanded; to be reduced to the grade of E-1; to be restricted to the limits of Schofield Barracks, place of duty, place of worship, dining facility, AAFES, Commissary, and physical fitness centers for 60 days; and to perform hard labor without confinement for 90 days.

• Federal Convictions. In addition to forfeiture of pay (either adjudged or by operation of law), confinement and a punitive discharge, a Soldier will also have a federal conviction that the Soldier must report when filling out a job application. A federal conviction strips a Soldier of many rights, such as the right to purchase and maintain firearms and voting.

The woman who made up rape allegations against two Sacred Heart University football players pleaded guilty on Tuesday to lying to police.

Nikki Yovino, 19, of South Setauket, N.Y., reportedly made up the allegations in order to gain the sympathy of another student she wanted to date. As part of a plea bargain, the young woman will be sentenced on Aug. 23 to “three years, suspended after she serves one year in prison and followed by three years’ probation,” the CT Post reported.

A jury was about to be selected, but Yovino instead agreed to take the plea deal.

“We were prepared to go to trial on the original felony charge, but after lengthy discussions with all parties involved and considering all outside factors, this was an appropriate disposition that will hopefully set a precedent about how serious the state takes this conduct,” Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tatiana Messina told the judge.

In October, Yovino, a student at the university located in Fairfield, Conn., reported to police that she had been raped by the two football players in the bathroom at an off-campus party in Bridgeport. Police have not released the football players’ names.

nikki yovino

Nikki Yovino, 19, pleaded guilty to making up rape allegations against two football players.  (Bridgeport Police )

The two men admitted to having sex with Yovino, but claimed it was consensual.

Authorities said she later admitted that she had consensual sex with the players and told them her motive. She was charged with evidence tampering, a felony, and falsely reporting an incident, a misdemeanor.

“She admitted that she made up the allegation of sexual assault against [the football players] because it was the first thing that came to mind and she didn’t want to lose [another male student] as a friend and potential boyfriend,” the arrest warrant affidavit stated. “She stated that she believed when [the other male student] heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her.”

The players’ lawyer, Frank Riccio II, told the CT Post the two men were considering suing Yovino.

“While this disposition does not replace that which the boys lost, it does send a powerful message that lying about a serious incident carries serious consequences,” Riccio said.

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder. LARS HAGBERG / THE CANADIAN PRESS

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A woman described how she thought she was “going to die” while being sexually assaulted by a man in a Toronto hotel room in 2015, a military court martial heard Monday.

Capt. Steven Nordstrom, a medical officer stationed at CFB Shilo with 1 Field Ambulance, has pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual assault in relation to events on Feb. 19 and one charge of assault on March 13 of the same year.

The victim, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, but who was being referred to as J.L. at the Edmonton Garrison court martial, sobbed as she testified she was pursued by Nordstrom into her hotel bedroom.

He stripped her naked before attempting to have sex with her, she testified.

Court heard the pair met while undertaking military course work in Toronto. Prior to the charges, the pair sat next to each other and shared the occasional joke and spoke about their lives away from the military. But J.L. said she and Nordstrom were not close.

Fighting back tears, J.L. — whose first language is French and who spoke through an English interpreter — told court that at one point during a farewell event at a Scottish pub, she stood up to take a photo and when she sat down again, Nordstrom had put his hand on the chair and grabbed her genitals.

His behaviour escalated, she told the court, saying that he then began touching her thigh under her skirt under the table.

“He did that the whole evening and he would not stop,” she said, estimating she had two to three large glasses of wine over the course of dinner and the rest of the evening.

She testified that she was embarrassed and didn’t know how to react to stop his advances and that she didn’t think that a doctor or a “military man” would hurt her.

When the evening wrapped up and the group left the pub in a limo, J.L. and Nordstrom exited the vehicle to visit a strip club.

J.L. testified she had spoken earlier while taking the course about wanting to see a classy strip show in Toronto before she left, something she had done with former colleagues in previous visits to Canada’s largest cities.

The limo stopped on a street corner and Nordstrom and J.L. entered a strip club. But after 20 minutes or so, J.L. testified that she demanded they leave. She told court that Nordstrom continued to try and touch her thighs and attempted to kiss her several times while in the club.

“I didn’t like it,” she told court. “I was frightened and I didn’t feel comfortable.”

She testified that during the taxi ride, Nordstrom continued to touch her even though she continued to protest.

When they arrived back at the hotel, Nordstrom followed her into her hotel bedroom and undressed her, she told court.

“I didn’t know how to stop him,” she said. “He was between me and the door.”

She testified that she asked him repeatedly to leave, but he went to the bathroom and emerged fully naked.

“It was if the light had gone off in my mind,” she said, adding her next recollection was Nordstrom forcing himself on her from behind in the bed.

When she tried to free herself, she told court, he grabbed her around the neck.

“I thought I was going to die,” she testified, adding she eventually managed to get Nordstrom to release her from his grip and he left the hotel room.

The March 13 assault charge stems from an interaction as the training course wrapped up and Nordstrom leaned with all his weight on her from behind, startling her.

She demanded loudly and clearly from him to “Stop harassing me.”

J.L. made an official complaint in the fall of 2015 because she couldn’t live with the idea that Nordstrom might “do the same thing to someone else.”

Nordstrom’s lawyer, David Bright, is expected to spend Tuesday in cross-examination.

 

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. (KEVN) – An airman at Ellsworth Air Force Base faces a general court-martial Wednesday on charges he murdered his infant son.

Airman 1st Class David E. MacDonald of the 28th Bomb Wing is charged under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

MacDonald’s son died Nov. 7, 2016. No details of the boy’s death were released.