Conduct Case MPCC‑2015‑045 Summary

The complainant is a former Reserve officer who served as a member of the instructing staff at a Cadet Camp. He wrote a letter to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) raising concerns about the conduct of other instructing staff at the camp and their chain of command. The allegations related to sexual misconduct, over a period of years, by staff members and the unit’s response to these matters.

This letter was forwarded to the Commanding Officer (CO) of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) for a response and/or action. A couple of months later, the CO CFNIS sent a response to the complainant in which he indicated that the complainant had not brought forward any new information, by which he meant that the issues being raised by the complainant had previously been raised in the context of certain other CFNIS investigation files. As a result, the CO CFNIS concluded that no further investigative action was warranted.

The complainant took issue with this reply, believing that the concerns raised in his letter to the JAG in fact included information that, either he had not previously reported to CFNIS, or had not been addressed by CFNIS in any meaningful way. A few months later, the complainant filed a conduct complaint with the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) to this effect against the CO CFNIS.

As the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) has primary responsibility for addressing conduct complaints, the complaint was first referred to his delegate for Military Police Professional Standards, the Deputy Commander (DComd), Canadian Forces Military Police Group. Due to ongoing judicial proceedings which related directly to some of the issues raised in the complaint, the DComd’s treatment of the complaint was put in abeyance for seven months.

Subsequently, the DComd issued his decision letter in which he essentially agreed with the CO CFNIS that much of the information brought forward in the complainant’s letter to the JAG had previously been investigated by the CFNIS, and that any additional information that was raised was insufficient to warrant further investigation.

Dissatisfied with this response, the complainant requested a review of his complaint by the MPCC.

For its review of this complaint, the MPCC took the list of concerns raised by the complainant in his letter to the JAG and broke them down into four allegations based on the different themes to which they related.

The first two allegations related to the conduct of the complainant’s CO in allegedly, seeking, obtaining and disclosing information pertaining to the CFNIS investigation of a Cadet staff member who was then facing two charges of sexual assault which were still before the courts.

The third allegation involved an incident reported by one of the alleged victims of sexual assault. She allegedly told the complainant that, shortly after charges had been laid by CFNIS in her case, she was contacted by a fellow Cadet instructor who suggested that she drop her criminal complaint.  According to the complainant, the alleged victim reported this incident to one of the CFNIS investigators handling her case, but that, as far as the complainant is aware, the matter was not properly addressed.

Finally, the fourth allegation pertained to two alleged historical incidents of sexual misconduct involving staff from the Cadet Camp, which the complainant had reported to CFNIS two years before, but, in respect of which, he suspected proper action had not been taken. The first related to an episode from a few years before where alleged obscene pictures of cadets with firearms were taken and circulated, with staff present. Additionally, the complainant alleged that the CO of the camp had issued a direction to the complainant and others not to report the pictures to the Military Police. The second historical incident related to a story the complainant had been told by another Cadet instructing officer, whom he identified, regarding an alleged sexual act between an instructing officer and a young cadet (below the age of consent), which had occurred off base more than twenty years before.

The MPCC conducted an extensive review of the voluminous material contained in the relevant CFNIS investigation. The review proved to be somewhat challenging as critical information was initially unavailable and surfaced only later in the Commission’s inquiry.

The Commission found the first allegation to be unsubstantiated. The Commission found that the complainant’s issues regarding his CO’s efforts to obtain from the complainant information he had provided to the CFNIS in their investigation had indeed been previously reported to, and addressed by, the CFNIS. While the complainant’s information regarding his CO’s disclosure of confidential information pertaining to the CFNIS’s investigation may not have been previously reported to the CFNIS, the Commission nonetheless considered that, as the disclosed information was clearly not confidential or sensitive, the CO CFNIS was correct that the matter did not warrant investigation.

The Commission found the second allegation to be unsubstantiated. It was determined that, as a member of the relevant chain of command, the complainant’s CO would have been entitled to access to the information in question. This was especially the case given that he was conducting a unit investigation into the extent of the misconduct involving the individual who was the subject of the CFNIS investigation.

The Commission found the third allegation to be substantiated. The MPCC determined that there was no evidence in the CFNIS investigation file of this incident having been reported to a CFNIS investigator, as the complainant claims he was advised by the sexual assault complainant.  Moreover, the CFNIS investigator in question had no recollection of this when asked by the MPCC. As such, this incident of an alleged sexual assault victim being told by one of her fellow Cadet instructing officers to drop her criminal complaint should have been new information for the CO CFNIS and his staff when they were preparing to respond to the complainant’s letter to the JAG. Moreover, if true, the allegation was suggestive of a serious problem in the Cadet Instructor Unit for that Cadet Camp.

The information in allegation three was second-hand, however, and so there was a significant possibility of misunderstanding, either on the part of the alleged sexual assault victim or the complainant, or both. However, given that the complainant provided the CFNIS with the identities of both parties to this alleged telephone conversation, it would not have been difficult to make some basic inquiries into this matter.

The Commission found the fourth allegation to be substantiated. The MPCC determined that, while the two alleged past episodes of sexual misconduct involving instructing staff and cadets had been previously reported to the CFNIS, as indicated by the complainant, the follow-up by CFNIS was clearly inadequate in the circumstances.

Accordingly, the MPCC recommended the matters raised by the complainant in allegations three and four now be looked into. The MPCC also recommended that the CFPM direct that MP members ensure that all emails in MP possession that are related to an investigation are scanned into the relevant MP investigation file as this was found to be lacking in this case.

In response to the MPCC’s Report, the CFPM accepted the MPCC’s findings and recommendations in this matter.

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