Canadian Forces training instructor now facing assault charges for allegedly mistreating military recruits
OTTAWA – A Canadian Forces instructor who is alleged to have mistreated two military recruits is now facing five charges including assault, the director of military prosecutions announced Friday.
Global News brought Pte. James Robichaud’s story to light last week – one of the recruits alleged to have been abused by his instructor, Cpl. Franco Guarnaccia, five years ago.
Robichaud questioned why it was taking so long to lay charges in this case.
And now, the military has decided to move on the allegations.
Guarnaccia is facing five charges related to his mistreatment of Robichaud and another recruit at a Canadian Forces training school in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
He faces two charges of assault, two charges of ill-treatment of a subordinate, and one charge for using harassing language towards recruits.
One set of charges relates to incidents against Robichaud that took place between Oct. 25, 2009 and Jan. 13, 2010.
The other set of charges relate to incidents involving another recruit that took place between Oct. 25, 2009 and Feb. 1, 2010.
Robichaud alleges the abuse he endured nearly five years ago was so traumatizing, it left him with physical and mental injuries and sabotaged his budding career.
The former recruit is on 17 different medications and said he still has nightmares.
“Everybody was scared of him. He was very aggressive,” Robichaud said of Guarnaccia last week. “We knew we would be in hell when he was in charge of us.”
When he ripped his Achilles tendon in a fall on black ice, Robichaud alleges his instructor made him run the course despite a doctor’s order to stay off his feet.
He said he was initially denied medical care or a wheelchair. He complained to his chain of command, only to be threatened by his instructor yet again.
“He stated that he could do whatever to us and nobody would believe us,” Robichaud said.
Robichaud was medically discharged in 2012. He says because of the abuse, he could not complete the basic training course and meet the requirements to begin his career as a soldier.
Veterans Affairs is now covering his medical expenses.
A military spokeswoman said Guarnaccia is now based at CFB Petawawa.
She said he will continue to work until he is faces his court martial, which could be months away.
– with files from Shirlee Engel
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