Court martial convicts military medic of sex assault in bogus breast exams

GATINEAU, Que. – A military judge has delivered a guilty verdict in the sex assault court martial of a former Canadian Forces medic on more than two dozen charges.

Retired petty officer James Wilks will now face sentencing on 25 sexual assault and breach of trust charges involving 16 women over six years.

In a West Quebec courtroom near Ottawa, military judge Lt.-Col. Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil handed down the verdict after reading a detailed summary of the case that concluded the testimony of the women should be believed.

The charges allege inappropriate medical exams at Ontario military recruitment sites in Thunder Bay and London from 2003 to 2009.

Wilks used the medical exams to see and touch the women’s breasts, and let them think it was part of the examination, which was “totally dishonest,” D’Auteuil said.

“The court found no reason to disbelieve any of these women.”

Wilks testified on his own behalf, but d’Auteuil said he was not believable.

The judge accepted evidence there was no need for the women to have undergone breast exams at their age. No such exam is required for women under the age of 40.

“He did that for his own personal sexual gratification,” said d’Auteuil.

There is a publication ban on the identities of the women.

In all, Wilks faced 16 charges of breach of trust and 10 sex assault counts. He was acquitted of a lone breach of trust charge.

Wilks will face a sentencing hearing that begins Feb. 24 and is expected to take several days.

Wilks has already served jail time for the same offence.

In a separate case, a military judge in December 2011 sentenced Wilks to nine months in jail after he was convicted of one count of sexual assault and four counts of breach of trust.

Prosecutor Maj. Dylan Kerr said it was too early to say what sentence he would be seeking.

“It’s a serious case in terms of the trust that was imposed on Mr. Wilks. He had a position of trust and authority over some vulnerable persons,” he said.

Most of the victims, he said, were “young female applicants to the Canadian Forces.” He said they were abused in some of their first encounters with the military.

“The abuse of that position in this way we view as quite serious,” said Kerr.

Wilks’s lawyer, Maj. David Hodson, said his client is very disappointed with the verdict but believes he had a fair trial.

Hodson said it was too early to consider an appeal.

Kerr said Wilks served the Forces “faithfully” for 27 years and his case should not diminish the overall reputation of the Forces in any way.

“Those convictions should not be used to tarnish Her Majesty’s Canadian Forces or the men and women who are serving in uniform,” Hodson said in an unprompted remark to reporters.

He said that the Forces still have personnel in Afghanistan and noted this week’s deployment of the Disaster Assistance Response Team to the Philippines.

“We ask the media and we ask the public to support those still in harm’s way and still doing good service throughout the world.”

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