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National News

Top soldier demoted for sex assault

WAINWRIGHT, Alta. - A former commanding officer of an Armed Forces base in Alberta has been demoted after being found guilty of sexual assault.

David Yurczyszyn will be down-ranked to captain from major and will also have his name listed on the national sex offender registry.

A military judge handed down the sentence at the end of a week-long court martial at the training base outside of Wainwright, southeast of Edmonton.

The judge found Yurczyszyn groped a woman while drunk at a party on Remembrance Day in 2012.

Yurczyszyn pleaded guilty to a charge of drunkenness under the National Defence Act, but denied that he intentionally grabbed the woman.

He argued he was picking a hair off the woman's sweater when he stumbled into her body.

Court heard he had been drinking at the legion and another bar before he showed up in his uniform at the party in the town of Wainwright. He was dishevelled and slurring his words.

His defence lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Yurczyszyn took over command of the base in June 2012, five months before the Remembrance Day party. After he was charged, he was removed from the top job and transferred to army headquarters in Ottawa.

Back in 2001, Yurczyszyn was charged but cleared in a sex tape scandal while a junior officer in Kingston, Ont.

He was accused of making a homemade porn tape and showcasing it at military parties. Court heard so-called "porn and chicken nights" were a long-time ritual to help cadets unwind. Soldiers would often rent hotel rooms and watch sex videos while eating chicken.

The judge in that case dismissed the military charges against Yurczyszyn and convicted two other soldiers.

Yurczyszyn's lawyer had argued he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The judge ruled that while Yurczyszyn had been "more than a common bystander," there wasn't enough evidence to support a conviction against him.

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