An Edmonton-based soldier charged with the attempted murder of her three children appeared in Morinville Provincial Court on Thursday.
The 41-year-old mother is accused of lighting her home on fire while her children were inside.
A publication ban was imposed so Global News cannot report her name.
The accused has been out on bail and was only just charged in August by military police with two counts of arson and three counts of attempted murder.
The charges stem from a house fire on CFB Edmonton back on July 20, 2015.
Military police initially ruled the fire was an accident and closed the case but confirmed third-party information made them re-assess and re-open the investigation.
The soldier is a corporal with the Canadian Armed Forces, which confirmed she has been a member of the military since 2007.
“The member is currently back to work. The member has been restricted from accessing weapons,” said a spokesperson with the Canadian Armed Forces.
The CAF said members charged with crimes are monitored closely and provided with emotional supports if necessary.
“The Canadian Armed Forces is a responsible organization. If one of our members is convicted of a serious crime, that person will be held accountable for their actions. Members charged are innocent until proven guilty.”
The woman’s ex-husband is suing her and in his statement of claim alleges she took the children while he was out of town in Saskatchewan, gave the kids Nyquil to make them sleepy and lit a fire in the basement of the home.
The lawsuit alleges smoke detectors were disabled and found in a bag in the basement.
The allegations have not been tested in court and, in her statement of defence, the accused denied the claims. She said if the fire was started by someone, it was by her ex-husband or one of her children.
Outside court, the ex-husband’s lawyer, Catherine Christensen with Valour Law, told Global News her client, who is also a member of the military, risked his career by pursuing the case.
Christensen said they believe it was their persistence that forced military police to finally launch a criminal investigation.
“This is a dad who fought against a system that he knew could or probably would have repercussions on his own military career,” said Christensen, “by making the military be accountable for what had happened to his children.”
“This dad is a perfect example, I think, of a military dad. Whatever he has to do to make his kids safe is what he’s doing.”
The statement of claim also alleges one of the children saw smoke in the home in July 2015 and was told by his mother to go back to his room.
Instead, said Christensen, “he then proceeded to get the other children out… He got out on the roof and was able to call for help and there were other soldiers in the PMQ’s (private military quarters) that helped him rescue his siblings.”
“That oldest child is a hero to me.”
The ex-husband has custody of the children and Christensen said they have been receiving therapy and support over the past four years.
He is suing the accused for $540,000 to pay for their medical and psychological treatment.
Christensen said for about a month after the fire in 2015, the mother was allowed unsupervised visits with the children. Christensen intends to go back to court to request the supervised visits be suspended and said she was shocked to see bail conditions that allowed continued contact with the children.
“The children are victims in this case,” said Christensen. “They are also potential witnesses for the trial, if it should go to trial.”
“To me, they shouldn’t have to spend time with someone that’s been accused of trying to kill them.”
The civil suit will be on hold pending the outcome of the criminal charges.
The accused has not yet entered a plea to the criminal charges. A new court date has been set for Oct. 10, 2019.