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Court hearing for Barrie police veteran facing harassment and extortion charges

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Bruce Gardiner, a 19-year Barrie police veteran, faced another round of preliminary hearing proceedings Monday in Barrie amidst allegations of criminal harassment and extortion.

Gardiner, 52, a former NHL player who transitioned into a role as a police tactical unit sergeant, was charged in 2022 in relation to incidents purportedly occurring between 2016 and 2018 while off-duty. Barrie police confirmed the charges stem from alleged conduct directed towards another member of the service.

Court documents revealed Gardiner, who had preliminary hearing proceedings begin in early January, is alleged to have, without reasonable justification or excuse and with intent to obtain compliance, threatened to release sensitive photographs of the complainant.

Records indicate Gardiner faces similar charges in April 2009 involving allegations of criminal harassment and voyeurism after an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). However, those charges were withdrawn a year later when Gardiner entered into a peace bond.

Now, 15 years later, Gardiner finds himself facing allegations for which he has been suspended again with pay.

Concurrently, Insp. Valarie Gates, a veteran of 26 years with Barrie police, faces her own tribunal under the Police Services Act, charged with discreditable conduct. The charge against Gates follows an investigation by the OPP Office of Professionalism, Respect, Inclusion, and Leadership.

While Gates has attended multiple hearings at the Barrie Courthouse during Gardiner's proceedings, the connection, if any, between the criminal charges against Gardiner and the disciplinary action against Gates remains unclear.

Publication bans preventing any evidence heard during the preliminary hearing and from identifying the alleged victim have been imposed.

The matter returns to court next week to set another date as the pretrial continues. The allegations against Gardiner have not been tested in court.

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