A former assistant coach for the Portland Pirates hockey team is charged with soliciting sex from a 13-year-old fan and sending her a cellphone picture of his genitals.
Now, the state is trying to block his plans to return home to Canada to coach at a boys’ and girls’ hockey camp, until the case is decided.
Mike Minard, 37, who lives in Falmouth, was charged last month with solicitation of a child to commit a prohibited act and sexual misconduct with a child younger than 14, both misdemeanors. He was charged after an investigation by sheriff’s deputies in Waldo County, where the girl lives, and the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit.
The Pirates’ National Hockey League affiliate, the Phoenix Coyotes, fired Minard immediately when they learned of the investigation.
Minard, who is married and has children, has pleaded not guilty and asked for a jury trial, said his attorney, Timothy Zerillo of Portland.
“This guy is not a threat to anybody,” Zerillo said. “He’s not a threat to boys or girls. It’s not a situation where he was coaching this alleged victim.”
Reports from the sheriff’s department and the state police describe how Minard and the girl met and their exchanges over the course of three months.
They met at Pirates’ games this season in Lewiston, where she sat with her family behind the Pirates’ bench. He introduced her to players and gave her and a friend hockey sticks signed by a player.
Later, she contacted him through the team’s Twitter account and, after direct messaging each other, they traded cellphone numbers. They started communicating in November, but Minard told investigators that their exchanges didn’t turn sexual until January, according to police reports.
At one point, while he was on the team bus returning from a game, he sent her a picture of his penis, the police reports say. She deleted it, as did a friend to whom she forwarded it. Analysts with the Computer Crimes Unit were unable to recover it, though they did recover some of the exchanges between Minard and the girl.
On two occasions, Minard suggested ways that they might be able to be alone to engage in sex, the police reports say.
The girl’s mother got suspicious when she asked to see her daughter’s phone and she deleted her texting history. The mother became aware of the alleged exchanges when she checked her daughter’s cellphone while the girl was in the shower.
In one message allegedly from Minard, he said he was sorry that the girl had been sick and wished he could cuddle her.
Minard was fired from his job as goaltending coach once the Pirates and the Phoenix Coyotes were alerted to the police investigation.
“On February 19, 2014, the Phoenix Coyotes were alerted by law enforcement that former Portland Pirates Goaltending Coach Mike Minard was the subject of a police investigation unrelated to his employment with the club,” said a statement from Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Maloney. “Later that day, upon learning the nature of the investigation, the Coyotes terminated the employment of Minard with the club effective immediately.”
The team declined further comment Friday, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.
On Friday, the Waldo County District Attorney’s Office asked a court to set bail conditions for Minard that would prohibit him from having contact with girls younger than 16 except for his own children and nieces, and prohibit him from using social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
The motion came in response to Minard’s plan to return to his hometown in Canada and coach at a hockey camp for girls and boys. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Tuesday in Waldo County Superior Court.
Minard is a native of Owen Sound, Ontario, according to a biography provided by the Pirates at the start of the 2013-14 season. He played professionally for 13 seasons, most of them in the American Hockey League. In the 1999-2000 season, he stopped 33 of 36 shots while recording a win for the Edmonton Oilers in his only NHL game. Twice in his career, he received the AHL’s Yanick Dupre Memorial Award for his contribution to hospitals, schools and hockey organizations in Hamilton and St. John’s, Newfoundland.
“This is a guy who has spent his entire life being charitable, working with kids in a charitable way, geared toward hockey, and he is a guy that has done some very wonderful things, and you hate to see it wiped out all in one fell swoop,” Zerillo said.
Police do not allege that Minard ever had sexual contact with the girl. They say he suggested and encouraged it by sending an explicit photo of himself.
Authorities say the charge of sexual misconduct corresponds with the allegation that Minard sent the girl a picture of his penis to encourage her to have sex with him. The solicitation charge stems from an allegation that he asked the girl if she wanted to have sex.
The girl told police that Minard knew she was 13 because they had discussed her age, according to the reports.
Detective Jason Bosco of the Computer Crimes Unit interviewed Minard at a Pirates practice in Saco on Feb. 19. According to a police report, Minard admitted to sending the picture and trying to get the girl alone but insisted he would never have followed through with the sexual suggestions he made.
He said “it was more about the fantasy of it all,” the report said.
It’s not clear what implications a conviction might have on Minard’s ability to stay in the United States, though Zerillo said the only reason his client is here was to work for the Pirates.
An officer’s decision to issue Minard a summons on Feb. 26 to appear in court, rather than arrest him, shows that authorities do not believe he poses a threat, Zerillo said.
The accusations have dealt a potentially fatal blow to Minard’s coaching career, Zerillo said.
“Just the charge alone is the scarlet letter,” he said. “It’s like a bomb going off, because when you’re on your way up in coaching and something like this happens, you hope it is not irreversible, but you have grave concerns that it will be.”
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: