Hockey: Collective violation case: no government funds involved, says Hockey Canada

OTTAWA _ Hockey Canada says the identities of the eight 2018 National Junior Team players who were allegedly involved in a gang rape case could never be confirmed.

“We wanted a third party to conduct the (independent that we commissioned) investigation. (…) Neither they nor the London police were able to confirm who the defendants were,” the organization’s chairman and chief operating officer, Scott Smith, said on Monday, appearing before the parliamentary committee. of Heritage.

He assured that the players in question, if they had been identified, would face disciplinary sanctions determined by a panel of three people “which is not managed by Hockey Canada”. He added, in the same breath, that this was always a possibility if new information made it possible to relaunch the investigation.

Mr. Smith and Tom Renney, chief executive who was also answering questions from federal elected officials, both repeated several times during their testimony that the alleged victim did not want to identify his alleged attackers and wanted to protect his own identity. .

The external review launched by Hockey Canada could not be concluded, said Mr. Renney, because the young woman did not want to speak with the person responsible for the investigation. “It was his right and we respect his wishes. »

Members of the Heritage Committee seemed sometimes surprised, sometimes shocked that none of the players had been found responsible or had suffered disciplinary action to date.

“I find it disturbing that for the past four years, no one has been held accountable (…) No one has lost the privilege of wearing the maple leaf on their jacket,” said curator John Nater.

Liberal Anthony Housefather for his part mentioned “that there is a very limited number of players who could have been potentially involved”.

According to information first reported by the TSN network, a woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by eight junior players of the Canadian Hockey League has dropped a lawsuit after an out-of-court settlement.

In the court documents that have been cited, the young woman alleges that she was sexually assaulted several times in a hotel room after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.

From the outset, the organization’s CEO maintained that no government funds were used in the agreement reached.

Nevertheless, it was added that Hockey Canada would “evolve” with the financial audit requested by the Minister of Sports, Pascale Ste-Onge.

Mr. Renney also sought to deny “comments made in public that were filed on speculation. »

“Hockey Canada is aware (reported) that we failed to investigate the incident, attempted to cover it up and swept the issue under the rug. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

He said the organization alerted police the same day they learned of the allegations, in June 2018, “the day after” the incident allegedly occurred. Sports Canada was notified within days, he said.

In addition, Mr. Smith indicated that Hockey Canada received interim recommendations, in the fall of 2019, by the firm Heenan Hutchinson as to “the environment that occurred that evening”.

“They gave us advice on how to improve our code of conduct and how to provide responsible alcohol service,” he gave as an example.

He maintained that actions have been taken since then, his colleague Mr. Renney even going so far as to speak, more generally, of a change in culture that is taking place in terms of harassment, sexual abuse, racism and of homophobia.

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