Home Sexual Assault Cases Hockey Canada scandal, explained: Why the organization is reopening investigation into 2018 sexual assault lawsuit

Hockey Canada scandal, explained: Why the organization is reopening investigation into 2018 sexual assault lawsuit

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Editor’s Note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be triggering for some readers.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, in Canada, please call 1-866-925-4419. More resources can be found here. In America, a list of resources can be found here.

Hockey Canada has announced that it is reopening its investigation into 2018 sexual assault allegations that involves players on the 2018 Canadian world junior team. 

In a statement by the organization released on Thursday, Hockey Canada admitted that they “have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 National Junior Team, or to end the culture of toxic behavior within our game.”

The organization will require all players on that roster to participate in the investigation. Those who do not cooperate will be banned from participating in all Hockey Canada activities and programs, according to the announcement. 

An independent third party will continue with digging into the details of the allegations. The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, has reportedly agreed to participate in the reopening of the investigation, her attorney told Sportsnet on Thursday.

Here is more information on the sexual assault allegations and why the case is being reopened. 

What are the sexual assault allegations?

In April of 2022, a woman filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and eight unnamed CHL players, stating she was sexually assaulted in a London, Ont. hotel room in June of 2018 following a Hockey Canada event.

The woman elected not to name any of the players involved, and stated in her original claim that it was eight “players for, and members of the CHL and Hockey Canada, including but not limited to members of the Canada U20 Men’s Junior Hockey Team.”

According to the lawsuit, the woman met the players at a bar, who were in London, Ont. for the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf event on June 18, 2018. She met one of the players, who is referred to as John Doe 1, who bought her alcoholic beverages. The woman said she was separated from her friend group as she became more intoxicated and eventually left the bar and went to a hotel with John Doe 1. 

At the hotel, the two ” engaged in sexual acts” in John Doe 1’s hotel room. The woman said that after this, “John Doe 1 invited the remainder of the John Doe defendants into the room without the knowledge or consent of the Plaintiff.”

The woman said in the claim that over the next several hours, John Does 1-8 engaged in several sexual acts “which collectively constituted sexual abuse and assault of the Plaintiff.” During these assaults, “the Plaintiff experienced an ongoing apprehension of imminent physical harm of a sexual nature. The actions of the John Doe Defendants caused terror and fear in the Plaintiff’s mind.” 

In the claim, the woman states that she could not give consent to any of the actions because of how intoxicated she was. In addition, the group of eight would not let her leave the room, despite multiple attempts by the victim.

The woman claimed that Hockey Canada knew about the allegations and did nothing about them. According to a statement by Hockey Canada, the organization claimed it reported the allegations to the police and also hired a third-party firm, Henein Hutchison LLP, to conduct an independent investigation.

What were the results of the initial investigation?

According to Hockey Canada, players were “strongly encouraged” to participate in the third-party investigation, but it was not mandatory. In total, the organization said “12 or 13” players participated in the investigation. 

Hockey Canada quietly settled the lawsuit in May. None of the allegations have been proven in a court of law. 

Why is Hockey Canada reopening the investigation into sexual assault allegations?

After the initial closing of the investigation, Hockey Canada began to receive backlash from Canada’s political figures and sponsors, in addition to fans of the sport. 

Canada’s minister of sport, Pascale St-Onge, announced that federal funding for the organization was to be frozen until the organization signed on with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) and provided detailed plans on implementing change to prohibit actions like those that allegedly happened in 2018 from occurring again.

Corporate sponsors of Hockey Canada, such as Scotiabank, TELUS, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, and Imperial Oil (Esso) paused sponsorships that were planned out for the upcoming World Juniors until change occurred with the organization. 

As a result, Hockey Canada signed onto OSIC and is reopening its investigation, in addition to announcing a number of changes. According to Hockey Canada’s statement on Thursday morning, the following plans are in place, in addition to the two previously listed:

  • Will require all high-performance players, coaches, team staff and volunteers to participate in mandatory sexual violence and consent training
  • Will conduct a full governance review of Hockey Canada
  • Creating a new independent and confidential complaint mechanism

“What happened in London, Ontario in 2018 was completely unacceptable,” Hockey Canada’s statement said. “And we once again apologize to Canadians, the young woman, and all those who have been impacted.”

Who are the players involved in the sexual assault allegations?

The eight players involved in the allegations have remained anonymous, however, six players have come forth and stated they were not among those that have been accused. 

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, Maple Leafs defenseman Victor Mete, Lightning defenseman Cal Foote, Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro, Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins and Sharks forward Jonah Gadjovich have all either put out personal statements or their agents have issued statements on behalf of their clients, stating they were not involved.

Fabbro and Foote’s agents sent statements to Ken Campbell, a Canadian hockey writer, clearing their clients. Gadjovich’s agent told San Jose Hockey Now that his client was “not involved in the incident.”

Makar was asked about the allegations during media availability for the 2022 Stanley Cup Final and told the reporters he had no involvement. He also said he was one of the few that cooperated with the third-party investigation.

Mete’s agent told Campbell that his client was in Cancun during the Hockey Canada Gala event, absolving him of any accusations. In addition, Mete put out a statement on Twitter

Most recently, Timmins put out a statement via his agency on Twitter, stating he had no involvement in the incident. 

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