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Witness at P.E.I. court martial says she was 'scared, nervous' of former cadet commander

Capt. Todd Bannister leaves military court in Charlottetown on Monday following the first day of his trial. Bannister is on trial for three counts of behaving in a disgraceful manner and three counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline.  ©THE GUARDIAN - Jim Day
Capt. Todd Bannister leaves military court in Charlottetown on Monday following the first day of his trial. Bannister is on trial for three counts of behaving in a disgraceful manner and three counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. - Jim Day

A woman testified in military court that a former Charlottetown cadet commander asked her to have intercourse with him on his desk.

Breanna MacKinnon, 22, says Capt. Todd Bannister, 46, vulgarly propositioned her in 2014 while she was filling out paperwork in his office at Queen Charlotte Armouries in Charlottetown.

“Out of the blue, he said ‘hey, would you f*** me on my desk,’’ she told the court.

“I was really nervous after that.’’

MacKinnon, who joined the cadets at age 13, says the incident caught her completely off guard.

“I don’t know how to describe it,’’ she testified.

“It was not something I would expect him to say to me.’’

She testified that Bannister told a civilian instructor who was in his office at the time that he could watch.

MacKinnon added that Bannister told her that since she was joining the Cadet Instructor Cadre, she would “have to get used to it.’’

She interpreted the comment to mean she would have to get used to that kind of behaviour.

“I was scared, I was nervous,’’ she said. “I can’t find the words to explain what had happened.’’

Related: Nine charges against former P.E.I. Army Cadet commander

MacKinnon also testified that Bannister made the same proposition a year later when the pair was among officers supervising cadets on a trip to Ottawa.

She said she started to panic, got nervous and began to cry over all the commotion and stress of getting cadets on board a train in Montreal.

She told the military court that Bannister at first tried to calm her down, but then said, “let’s have sex.’’

She said after telling Bannister the comment was not funny, Bannister replied that he was trying “to lighten the mood.’’

Bannister was in court Monday, with several family members in attendance, facing the first day of a standing court martial.

He pleaded not guilty to each of the six charges he is facing. He had initially faced nine charges.

Related: Former cadet claims officer facing court martial had relationship with her when she was 12

The two alleged incidents with MacKinnon have each resulted in charges of behaving in a disgraceful manner and conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline.

He also faces a pair of the same charges in connection to an incident with a cadet for him allegedly stating, “there’s a lot of ‘boobage’ around here.’’

All charges stem from Bannister’s alleged conduct while he was serving as commanding officer of 148 Charlottetown Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

Military Judge Lt.-Col. Louis Vincent d’Auteuil adjourned the case Monday after Bannister’s lawyer raised concern over a typed complaint signed by MacKinnon and the fact a handwritten statement by MacKinnon is missing.

MacKinnon also conceded under cross-examination that she never took the initiative to file a complaint in either incident.

Rather, she was approached by military police to comment on the incidents.

She told the court that she did not come forward to complain about the incidents because she felt it would not get anywhere.

She says the two incidents still bother her “when I think about it.’’

The trial is scheduled to resume this morning with MacKinnon back on the stand.

Military prosecutor Major M.E. Leblond told the court she plans to call seven witnesses. The trial is expected to last all week.

 

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