Off-duty police officer accused of assaulting young Ontario hockey player while coaching

Hockey sticks are seen in this file image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ivan Sekretarev

An Ontario hockey coach, who is also a police officer, has been charged after a 12-year-old player from an opposing team was allegedly threatened and assaulted, officials say.

Ontario Provincial Police said the incident happened on Sunday at an arena in the town of Espanola, which is southwest of Sudbury.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m., police began investigating after it was reported that following an earlier hockey game, a 12-year-old player was assaulted and threatened by a coach, police said.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

Police said 50-year-old Melisa Rancourt was arrested and charged with assault, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, and causing a disturbance.

Rancourt is scheduled to appear in court on March 4.

On the Espanola Minor Hockey website, Rancourt is listed as an assistant coach for the Espanola Screaming Eagles.

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Accused is a constable with Greater Sudbury Police Service

Meanwhile, the Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) said in a news release that Rancourt has been a constable with the service since 2018 and was off-duty at the time of Sunday’s alleged incident.

An internal investigation has been launched and Rancourt has been suspended with pay, the service said, noting that under current legislation, an officer cannot be suspended without pay.

“While these allegations have yet to be proven in a court of law, the actions of one individual do not represent our members or reflect the values of our organization,” Greater Sudbury police Chief Paul Pedersen said in the release.

“It is always disturbing to hear of an officer who breaks the law and brings disrepute to the policing profession. This is in no way a reflection of our members who serve this community with pride and professionalism.

“We are confident that the matter will be investigated thoroughly and have confidence in our judicial system and the systems of accountability through the Police Services Act.”

The internal investigation by members of the GSPS professional standards bureau will be conducted as the OPP continues its criminal investigation, the GSPS said.

“As this matter is before the courts, we are unable to provide further details,” the service said.

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A spokesperson for the GSPS told Global News that Rancourt was also found guilty of two counts of discreditable conduct on Oct. 27, 2022, which indicates reportedly had to do with a refusal to show proof of vaccination at a hockey arena.

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