There has been another disciplinary hearing and another adjournment for Greater Sudbury Police Cst. Melisa Rancourt, and though no trial dates have been set, the involved parties will meet again May 2 to set them.
The officer is facing discreditable conduct charges under the Police Services Act following an incident at the Espanola Recreation Centre last September.
The results of the April 25 hearing meant that the trial will not be held for at least four weeks, as requested by new counsel for Rancourt, David Butt.
GSPS Staff Sgt. Jack Sivazlian spoke to the tight schedule of Butt and noted that because he was not on the call and they did not know his schedule, it would be hard to pin down availability.
“We've only been able to touch base with them last week and retain him,” said Sivazlian. “He only just received a disclosure package from Melisa. And he does need to review it, and then we're hoping to have discussions with you moving forward to resolve this matter.”
Opposing counsel, David Migicovsky mentioned that Rancourt’s last appearance was adjourned so that the disclosure could be reviewed. “And that was a month ago, so what I'd like to do now is set a hearing date,” he said. “I don't want to be difficult. But I think I made clear that I wanted to set a date this time. It was incumbent upon Cst. Rancourt to have counsel representing her if that's what she wanted. I don't want to delay this further.”
Migicovsky indicated the trial would require, in his view, “three days for evidence, followed by a break for a short period, then one day for arguments.”
Sivazlian said that while he appreciated the needs of Migikovsky, Butts is very busy. “We've only been able to touch base with him last week to retain him. He only just received a disclosure package from Melissa,” said Sivazlian.
Migicovsky expressed concern that waiting would cause Butt’s schedule to be even fuller, and suggested perhaps adjourning for one week and asking Butts to be present on the call to select trial dates.
Hearing officer and retired Toronto Police Service Superintendent, Peter Lennox, said, “that sounds suspiciously like good sense.”
He assured Migicovsky that he shared his desire to handle things expeditiously.
“I also object to things being dragged along, and I assure you, I won't allow that to happen,” said Lennox. “But at the same time, and particularly since this is a case where the responding officer faces substantial jeopardy, I think what we will do is make it incumbent upon the defence to have dates ready when we return.”
The hearing date to decide trial dates is scheduled for May 2, but is subject to Butt’s availability. The hearing dates will then be chosen for at least three weeks later, making the adjournment the four weeks that was requested.
Rancourt was charged on Sept. 26 when she refused to provide proof of vaccination to attend her child’s hockey game at the Espanola Recreation Centre.
Witnesses told Sudbury.com Rancourt yelled and screamed, called bystanders “nazis” and kicked a door while arguing with an OPP officer called by rec centre staff after the GSPS officer refused to show proof of vaccination.
Rancourt was arrested and charged with resisting a peace officer, and two charges of entering a premises when entry has been prohibited, contrary to the Trespass to Property Act (TPA).
Her partner, Dana Rancourt, was also charged with trespassing in regards to the same incidents. You can read more about that incident here.
Rancourt has since completed the Direct Accountability Program through the John Howard Society, and because she has completed the program’s requirements, which include admitting to the crimes, two charges against Rancourt have now been officially withdrawn.
A third charge, the remaining of the two trespassing charges, was dismissed upon payment of the fine by Rancourt.
Because of her profession, Rancourt is now facing two counts of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act. Count one applies to incidents in or on September 26, 2021, and count two of discreditable conduct is specific to September 2021 to January 2022.
These counts will be further explained during the trial, said Kaitlyn Dunn, GSPS communications co-ordinator.