‘Ottawa’ Updated: Petawawa Soldier who Sexually Assaulted Women, Videotaped them, Pleads Guilty
PEMBROKE — The investigation into a Petawawa-based infantry soldier that began after the discovery of videos of women being sexually assaulted culminated Tuesday with a guilty plea.
Derrick Gallagher, 33, pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual assault and three counts of voyeurism Tuesday, more than two years after he was initially charged with 27 offences.
Jason Gilbert, the Ottawa lawyer representing Gallagher, said outside court his client’s guilty plea should be considered as a mitigating factor when he is sentenced. The trial had been set for three weeks and the victims and witnesses would have had to testify, Gilbert said.
“You can only imagine what they were spared from the plea today,” Gilbert said.
Gallagher admitted to engaging in sexual acts with women, secretly videotaping them without their consent and video recording online chats, including several instances where a woman danced for him and took off her clothes.
Gallagher spent one night with a woman in the summer of 2011 at the Holiday Inn near the ByWard Market, according to an agreed statement of facts read into court by Ottawa Assistant Crown Attorney Dallas Mack. Gallagher and the woman never had sex but they did kiss on one occasion.
The woman was shocked when the OPP, during an April 10, 2014 interview, showed her the pictures and videos that Gallagher took of her without her knowledge.
“She was shaken and distraught after viewing some of them and refused to view them all,” Mack told court.
In March of 2013, Gallagher also rented an Ottawa hotel room for two nights and videotaped his date, according to the agreed statement of facts.
The investigation into Gallagher began after a woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, found a duffle bag with several discs that had various labels on them, including Gallagher Girls, Gall Girls 1 and GG A-Ch.
The woman discovered that the discs contained videos of Gallagher performing sexual acts on women, as well as photos.
“She noticed some of the women were not moving and appeared to be unconscious,” Mack told court, adding the woman worried the females in the videos were dead. Mack told court that the crown is not alleging that Gallagher drugged any of his victims.
The woman left for the weekend, which she had already planned to do, but took with her a stack of some the discs she found.
On March 29, 2014 she gave the discs to the Ontario Provincial Police.
When police executed a search warrant at Gallagher’s home, they seized other discs, computers and hard drives. On a computer seized from Gallagher’s home, police found videos of him chatting on Skype with women he met on dating websites. Police said Gallagher was a “voracious” user of dating websites.
Police said they undertook exhaustive investigative measures to find potential victims since some of them may not have realized they had been sexually assaulted. Mack told court some of the women “were not awake and did not consent.”
Police tracked down hotels where assaults occurred, used surveillance video and check-in records in an attempt to identify potential victims.
In some cases, police had only the first name of an alleged victim and an Internet or text message chat to go on.
Gallagher is originally from New Brunswick. After he joined the military in 2005, he completed training at CFB Borden from January to March 2006 and in Meaford from April to July of the same year. Both locations are north of Toronto.
Gallagher did one tour in Afghanistan from Sept. 19, 2008, to April 9, 2009. Court records show there was a gap in the alleged sexual assaults during Gallagher’s overseas posting.
The military wouldn’t release where Gallagher did training after he was posted to Petawawa, citing privacy legislation.
The Department of National Defence was accused of hindering the investigation into Gallagher by withholding that information.
Steve Sullivan, the executive director of Ottawa Victim Services, said in 2014 that DND was preventing police from reaching more potential victims, especially since police said there were “major health concerns” they wanted to alert women to. What those concerns were have never been made public.
Gallagher is expected to appear in court at a later date for a sentencing hearing.