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Court hearing for former NHLer and Barrie police officer facing extortion charges

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Barrie police Insp. Valarie Gates testified in the preliminary hearing for suspended Sgt. Bruce Gardiner, who stands charged with extortion and criminal harassment.

Court documents reveal Gardiner, who’s been a member of Barrie police for 19 years, is accused of having, without reasonable justification or excuse and with intent to obtain compliance, threatened to release sensitive photographs of the complainant, an individual police confirm is a member of the Barrie Police Service.

Barrie police said the alleged conduct occurred while off-duty between 2016 and 2018.

The complainant’s identity and evidence heard in court are protected by a publication ban.

Court documents also show Gardiner faced similar charges in April 2009, including criminal harassment and voyeurism, following an investigation by the OPP. Those charges were withdrawn a year later when Gardiner entered into a peace bond.

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

Gardiner’s proceedings are taking place while Gates is before a Police Services Act Tribunal, charged with discreditable conduct. Her matter was addressed Thursday over teleconference. It was adjourned until next month following another defence request for disclosure of evidence.

Barrie Police Service confirmed the charge against Gates, a 27-year police veteran, was laid following an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police Office of Professionalism, Respect, Inclusion and Leadership.

Gates made several appearances at the Barrie Courthouse during Gardiner’s January court hearings.

It‘s unclear whether the criminal charges against Gardiner and the Police Services Act charge against Gates are related.

Barrie-born Gardiner played for four NHL teams in six seasons from 1996 to 2002, scoring the first-ever goal in Columbus Blue Jackets history. He was inducted in 2017 as a member of the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame.

Gardiner’s matter will be back before a judge in May.

The allegations against him have not been tested in court.

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