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Defence will move to have buggery charge dropped: lawyer

Law was scrapped in 1988; man faces charge 22 years later

Roger Bazin has been charged with buggery, a now-abolished law.

A lawyer representing Roger Bazin says he will move to have a buggery charge dating back to 1972 dropped.

Last February seven charges, including buggery, were laid against the former chief Roman Catholic Canadian Forces chaplain.

Roger Bazin, 73, who now lives in Winnipeg, retained counsel after two Barrie court remands.

Xtra contacted Bazin’s lawyer, Sheldon Pinx. He declined to give much comment but said the buggery charge was applied because it was a charge relevant at the time of the 1972 offence.

“This is not the first time I have dealt with someone on this type of charge. But I’m a defence lawyer and you should be getting those answers from the government. I’m not prepared to disclose anything,” says Pinx.

Canada inherited its buggery law — which covered both anal sex and bestiality — from Britain. In 1969, the law was relaxed to exclude consensual sex if both partners were over the age of 21. In 1988, the buggery law was scrapped altogether and replaced with a prohibition on anal sex with people under the age of 18. That law has been struck down in several jurisdictions, including Ontario, because it sets a different age of consent for gay sex, 18, than straight sex, 16.

Since sexual assault has no statute of limitation, Bazin was charged with buggery even though it is no longer considered a crime in Canada.

There isn’t a simple yes or no answer as to whether the buggery charges are retroactive, says Bruce MacGregor, DND’s director of military justice and policy.

And it’s not the only difficult legal element in the case.

“At the time of the offence allegedly committed by retired Brigadier-General Bazin, the military justice system did not have jurisdiction over this type of offence,” a Department of National Defence (DND) spokesperson told Xtra last February.

Changes to the National Defence Act in 1998 gave the military jurisdiction to charge soldiers with sexual assault under the Code of Service Discipline. Prior to that, sexual assault charges were processed in civilian court. But the catch is the military can only charge someone with sexual assault if the incident happened three or less years ago. And for the military to charge a soldier with sexual assault, it must happen outside Canada. 

In other words, the military cannot prosecute because the alleged events involving Bazin took place more than three years ago and inside Canada. While the military did the investigation, he was charged under the Criminal Code of Canada and is being prosecuted under the civilian justice system.

The next Barrie court appearance is scheduled for July 21.