A senior military officer in the Canadian Armed Forces has been placed on leave months after a sexual misconduct investigation against him first started, Global News has confirmed.
A statement Friday from the CAF confirmed a report first published by the Globe and Mail that the military’s head of personnel, Lt.-Gen. Steven Whelan had stepped aside from his role.
The CAF said that Whelan’s leave is effective immediately.
The statement said that the acting chief of defence staff, Gen. Wayne Eyre, was first notified in June that military police had opened an investigation into Whelan, who was not initially made aware of it due to concerns about a possible impact on the investigation.
“Since the onset of the investigation, the situation has been subject to an ongoing and deliberate assessment by the VCDS in regards to victim impact, his continuing employment, and impact on the workplace,” read the statement.
In a statement Friday, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service said that it has received an allegation of sexual misconduct against Whelan, and that it is still ongoing.
“The Military Police do not, by practice, proactively disclose the existence of ongoing investigations,” read the statement.
Whelan is the latest in multiple senior military officers who are facing investigations or allegations of sexual misconduct in recent months.
The Canadian Forces is facing what experts have described as an institutional “crisis” since Global News first reported on high-profile allegations against senior leadership earlier this year.
News of the probe into Whelan comes as Adm. Art McDonald, who is on leave from his role as chief of the defence staff, is facing heavy criticism for his decision to send a letter to senior military colleagues in which McDonald claimed he has been exonerated of a sexual assault allegation against him, which he has denied.
McDonald is demanding he be reinstated to the top job, which is currently being filled in an acting capacity by Gen. Wayne Eyre.
Eyre on Friday responded to the letter sent by McDonald, calling it “shocking.”
—With files from Global News’ Sean Boynton