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Former commanding officer in Charlottetown heading back to military court

Todd Bannister, right, and his defence lawyer J.L.P.L. Boutin leave a court martial in Charlottetown in February 2018. Bannister was found not guilty on two counts of behaving in a disgraceful manner and two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. Bannister will be heading back to court after an appeal was recently granted.
Todd Bannister, right, and his defence lawyer J.L.P.L. Boutin leave a court martial in Charlottetown in February 2018. Bannister was found not guilty on two counts of behaving in a disgraceful manner and two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. Bannister will be heading back to court after an appeal was recently granted. - Mitch MacDonald

Retrial for Todd Bannister

Todd Bannister, the former commanding officer of 148 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Charlottetown, will be heading back to military court.

The Crown’s appeal of Bannister’s February 2018 acquittal on charges stemming from incidents where he asked a female cadet for sex has been granted by the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, and the court has ordered a new trial.

The court ruled the military judge erred by failing to consider whether prejudice to good order and discipline had been proven to the required standard using inferential reasoning. He also erred by failing to apply his own military experience and general service knowledge and by failing to consider the broader prejudicial impact on the Canadian Armed Forces at large, states the 32-page ruling.

Click here to read the full ruling

The appeal court heard facts of the case that were not in dispute included that Bannister had suggested to Breanna MacKinnon when she was an 18-year-old cadet that they should have sex on his desk.

The second incident happened when MacKinnon was a full member of the Canadian Armed Forces and tasked with organizing a cadet course in Montreal. She was flustered at trying to get cadets to their correct trains and Bannister told her, in an apparent attempt to calm her down, that they should have sex.

“Sexual misconduct, including inappropriate sexualized comments, has no place in the Canadian Armed Forces,’’ said Col. Bruce MacGregor, director of military prosecutions.

“The recent decision in the Bannister case from the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada is but another example of our efforts to clarify the law as it relates to sexual misconduct and how such behavior can adversely affect individual victims and the Canadian Armed Forces Institution.’’

MacGregor added this case is particularly poignant given that Bannister, a commanding officer of a cadet corps, was in a position of trust and authority over the victim at the time of the alleged offences.

“The Canadian Military Prosecution Service will continue to prosecute such cases to the fullest extent of the law, openly, fairly and in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,’’ he said.

Last summer, Bannister was released from the Canadian Armed Forces following an administrative review process, which is used whenever a member’s suitability or viability to continued service is called in question.

A date has yet to be set for Bannister to stand trial again on two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline and two counts of disgraceful behaviour.

He can only be convicted of one of the two different charges in each of the two incidents.

Conviction of behaving in a disgraceful manner carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail but could result in a fine, reduction in rank or dismissal from the Armed Forces, the latter two a moot point now.

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