SURREY, B.C. - An RCMP investigation spanning British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan has resulted in the arrest of a former Mountie who's alleged to have sexually assaulted eight boys in the late 1970s and early '80s.

Police say Alan Davidson, 58, was arrested Thursday in Calgary, where he was living and working for Alberta's sheriff services.

He was charged with eight counts of indecent assault, a Criminal Code offence that dates back to before the crime of sexual assault was created.

RCMP Supt. Brendan Fitzpatrick told reporters Friday in Metro Vancouver that the alleged assaults happened in Clearwater, B.C., when Davidson was a coach, but before he joined the Mounties.

"At this time we have no information and are unaware of any alleged offences that may have occurred during his service as a police officer," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said investigators have searched dozens of minors sports rosters in three different provinces to identify other possible victims.

Police said the allegations came to light when a Metro Vancouver man came forward in November 2012, saying he had been sexually assaulted by his minor hockey coach in the early 1980s.

The man told police it was possible that other players on the team had also been assaulted.

"Once we became aware of the allegations, our investigators immediately began a parallel review of Davidson's service and time with the RCMP from application through to retirement," Fitzpatrick said.

During the 16-month investigation eight males came forward with complaints, he said.

Most of the alleged victims either played hockey or baseball and said they were coached by Davidson, RCMP said.

"Considering the traumatic nature of the allegations, I would like to commend those individuals who came forward after all these years," Fitzpatrick said.

"It takes a great deal of courage for those individuals to speak out about their victimization."

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who was sexually abused by his minor-league hockey coach Graham James in the 1980s, told a news conference in Calgary following the RCMP announcement that it's very important for the alleged victims to get in touch with police.

"Many people are suffering when they don't come forward," he said. "I know because I was one of them."

Any other potential victims connected to the allegations against Davidson are asked to call police.

An old photo of Davidson taken in the late 1970's was also released during the news conference, to assist in "potentially triggering some memories," Fitzpatrick said.

Davidson began training as a Mountie in Regina in 1981 and worked in detachments in Saskatchewan and Lloydminster, Alta., from February 1982 until he retired in August 1996 to pursue other business ventures in Alberta, Fitzpatrick said.

When a reporter questioned the integrity of the screening process for RCMP officers, Fitzpatrick agreed the allegation was concerning, but said the selection of new members is now much stricter.

"The RCMP's recruiting and selection process has evolved tremendously over the course of the last 30 years to include a number of processes and reliability screening and tools so this type of thing is eliminated," he said.

Davidson is expected to appear in a Kamloops, B.C., court April 3.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said he worked in B.C. as a Mountie

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