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Demoted Sudbury police officer charged with assaulting hockey player, 12

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A Sudbury police officer who was banned from the Espanola arena during the pandemic and subsequently demoted is facing new charges.

Melisa Rancourt, 50, was charged by Ontario Provincial Police in connection with another incident at the Espanola arena while she was off duty last Sunday, Sudbury police said in a news release Wednesday.

"It was reported that after an earlier hockey game on that same day, a coach had threatened and assaulted a 12-year-old player from an opposing team," OPP said in a news release.

"No injuries were reported."

Rancourt, the coach, was charged with assault, uttering threats and causing a disturbance on Feb. 11 and has been suspended with pay again -- the second time in less than three years.

"As a result, Chief Pedersen has launched an internal investigation into the alleged misconduct of Const. Rancourt," Sudbury police said.

"Under the current legislation, there is no authority to suspend an officer without pay."

She has been a constable with Greater Sudbury Police Service since 2018.

"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. It is always disturbing to hear of an officer who breaks the law and brings disrepute to the policing profession," Pedersen is quoted as saying in the news release.

"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 is being conducted by members of the GSPS professional standards bureau while the OPP continues its criminal investigation.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

She is scheduled to appear in court in Espanola -- located about 70 kilometres west of Sudbury -- on March 4.

IN TROUBLE BEFORE

Rancourt was charged with resisting police and trespassing in September 2021 at the Espanola arena during the COVID-19 pandemic after refusing to produce a vaccine passport, required at the time to watch her child play hockey.

The criminal charges were eventually dropped and instead she paid a $750 fine.

Rancourt was openly critical of the country's COVID-19 public safety policies and returned to the arena after being asked to leave.

She pled guilty to two counts of discreditable conduct in a police disciplinary hearing on Oct. 13, 2022.

In a decision Nov. 18, 2022, retired superintendent Peter Lennox gave her a one-year demotion from first-class to third followed by a year as a second-class constable.

She was also ordered to "perform 40 hours of volunteer work through the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies," after her comments equating COVID-19 restrictions to Nazis and the Holocaust were found to be anti-Semitic.

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