Published Wednesday, December 20, 2017 6:11PM PST
A woman who says she was involved in a sexual relationship with her commanding officer at CFB Esquimalt has come forward to share her side of the story.
Maj. Heather Hynes says she made a mistake when she entered into a sexual relationship with her now-retired boss, Cmdr. Nord Mensah – one she doesn’t want to see others in the military make.
“I felt trapped into…I do this with him, that he’s asking me to do, or I will suffer the consequences,” Hynes told CTV News. “My evaluations will be lower, I won’t be able to care properly for my son. I felt entirely trapped.”
Hynes was married and had a young son with special needs, which meant she needed flexibility in her schedule, when she claims she had a three-week sexual relationship with Mensah.
“The one person responsible for drafting my annual personnel evaluation report, which is what is used to have my file seen at the merit board for promotion,” she said.
Earlier this month, Mensah pleaded guilty in a court martial to a charge stemming from his failure to report the relationship.
He was fined $2,500 and handed a severe reprimand.
Two other charges relating to pursuing and engaging in a sexual relationship with a subordinate were dropped in a plea deal.
At the time of the court martial, the military’s base commander expressed concern about sexual relationships between different ranks in the same chain of command.
“When you have a leader having some sort of relationship with anyone in his command, I think it’s pretty safety to say it’s not appropriate,” said Capt. Jason Boyd.
Hynes admits to flirtatious behaviour and comments and acknowledges Mensah would have thought the relationship was consensual.
But she claims in her mind, she had no choice but to go along with it and make him happy because of the power imbalance.
“I’m a little sympathetic. He probably would believe that I gave him consent, but that consent was given under duress,” Hynes said.
CTV News contacted Mensah for an interview or comment. He responded to an email containing Hynes’s allegation stating “it seems to contain a number of inaccuracies related to the events that transpired between the complainant and I.”
“My standing court martial (SCM) regarding the incident in question addressed all of the legitimate particulars associated with the case…As such, I have no further comment on the matter.”
He also did not respond to a further request for details of the alleged inaccuracies. Mensah was released from the military for medical reasons due to mental health issues last year.
Meanwhile, Hynes says she remains dedicated to the armed forces and hopes her story can serve as a lesson to others about the harm associated with a sexualized workplace.