“Sexual Assault Allegations in Hockey Canada: What’s Next?”
Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers.
Recent reports suggest that a third-party adjudicative panel has completed its final report on possible sanctions against former World Junior players involved in a 2018 group sexual assault in London, Ont. However, Hockey Canada has yet to release the results or confirm whether the report recommends sanctions due to the panel’s conclusions being under appeal.
Behind Closed Doors
An anonymous spokesperson for Hockey Canada explained that the appeal process is set to begin soon in-camera, meaning that the details of the report, including its findings, cannot be shared at this time to avoid any interference with the integrity of the appeal process. The composition of the independent panel and the names of its members are being kept confidential as well.
The high-profile case revolves around a lawsuit settled by Hockey Canada with a young woman, who accused eight Canadian Hockey League players, including members of the World Junior team, of sexual assault in 2018. The incident has rocked the sports world, prompting a withdrawal of support from sponsors, a freeze on the agency’s funding by the federal government, and demands for transparency. Furthermore, the use of the National Equity Fund, partially funded by registration fees, to settle the case has sparked outrage among hockey parents.
The young woman at the center of the lawsuit claimed that a hockey player bought her alcoholic drinks at a local bar, leading to her intoxication. She was allegedly subjected to multiple forms of assault by the players. However, the players involved have pressured her against reporting the allegations or cooperating with a police investigation, according to the claim.
When the allegations surfaced, Hockey Canada sought legal advice and launched its own investigation. The law firm’s report on the alleged assault was subsequently shared with its adjudicative panel, which was responsible for determining potential sanctions against the players.
Meanwhile, the London Police Service is conducting its own investigation into the matter, having reopened its probe in response to public criticism. Court documents from a year ago indicate that investigators believed they had reasonable grounds to accuse five World Junior players of sexual assault. However, no charges have been laid and the NHL is also conducting its own investigation.
A Call for Transparency
The handling of these disturbing allegations raises broad questions about the responsibility and transparency expected from sports organizations, especially in situations involving criminal acts. Regardless of the appeal’s outcome, it is crucial for Hockey Canada to demonstrate a commitment to addressing and preventing such conduct in the future.
The complexities of this case highlight a broader issue within the sports community. Representatives and organizations must prioritize the physical and emotional safety of all participants, acknowledging the influence and responsibility they hold in shaping a culture of respect and accountability within the sporting world — one that far surpasses any win-loss record.