Ne probrum castis, labem integris, infamiam bonis inferat

Lest he should defame the good, reproach the chaste, and disgrace the honest

The commanding officer of 8 Wing, CFB Trenton—Colonel D. Russell Williams, CD—faces a plethora of criminal charges related to the deaths of two women and the sexual assaults of two others.  On Monday, Ontario Provincial Police charged Colonel Williams, 46, with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of forcible confinement, two counts of breaking and entering and two counts of sexual assault.

8 Wing is undoubtedly the busiest air wing in the Canadian Forces.  Its sub-units are responsible for search and rescue, VIP transport, strategic and tactical airlift,  and aerial refueling.  It is literally the linchpin of of air mobility for the entire Canadian Forces.  There are other wings with airlift (and SAR) components, certainly, but no other wing encompasses the CF’s entire range of air mobility missions and platforms.

The colonel has been removed from his command while the investigation proceeds; according to this Belleville Intelligencer report, many base personnel learned of their boss’ arrest like everyone else—through media reports.  No doubt townspeople in the Quinte area are shocked and dismayed as well.  CFB Trenton enjoys an enviable relationship with the civil communities near the base; the facility and its personnel are almost always mentioned favourably in local media outlets.

I’m glad to see Trenton’s mayor, John Williams—who was in touch with Col. Williams frequently—reinforcing his support for the base with a message of reassurance:

“Put it this way, our community and CFB Trenton are interwoven. I know he’s innocent until proven guilty, but nonetheless this is unbelievable. It’s shocking,” said Williams. “I feel for the base personnel and I want them to know the arrest does not change the city’s relationship with the base.

— Kuglin, Ernst and Emily Mountenay.  “Trenton in shock after base commander charged with two counts of first degree murder.” Belleville Intelligencer, 8 February 2010. [Emphasis mine]

If the charges are accurate, Colonel Williams has violated not just the public’s trust in its armed forces, but the enlisted force’s trust in its officer leadership.  Raping and slaying one of the non-commissioned personnel he was charged to keep “in good Order and Discipline” goes against every core tenet of the officer corps—self-sacrifice, loyalty, knowledge, integrity and courage.

In light of the incalculable damage caused in the lives of four young women, the morale of the men and women under his command, and the public trust in its uniformed personnel, whatever sentence such an officer ends up receiving—no matter how severe—will not be nearly enough.  It is a dereliction of staggering proportions.

RELATED: An interesting clue at the end of this CityNews story:

“Williams became brought to the attention of police as a result of information gathered during a roadside canvas on highway 37 on the night of Feb. 4,” revealed Det. Insp. Chris Nicholas.

— staff.  “Missing Belleville Woman Found Dead, CFB Trenton Commander Charged.”, 8 February 2010.

UPDATE 091048Z FEB 10: provides some elaboration (although not much) from OPP Detective Inspector Chris Nicholas:

The charges came “due to a singularity in those incidents,” Nicholas said. “We linked those crimes to a single suspect.”

— Black, Debra, Lesley Ciarula Taylor, and Jesse McLean.  “CFB Trenton chief accused of killing two women.”, 8 February 2010.

UPDATE 091911Z FEB 10: The singularity was the colonel’s unique tire tracks.

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