Content Warning: The following article contains references to sexual assault.
The investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving Hockey Canada’s 2018 World Junior Championship team members has reached a new chapter.
Police and the Ontario Court of Justice are now seeking warrants and have ordered additional information be provided from parties involved in private investigations into the incident. Police also believe there are reasonable grounds to charge five players with assault.
This development came to light after case filings, including a 94-page police report, were unsealed this week. Those filings include a decision by Ontario Court of Justice judge Joseph Carnegie ordering Heinen Hutchison LLP, the law firm that conducted an “independent” investigation, as directed by Hockey Canada, into the alleged assaults in 2018, to produce their report. Carnegie requested Heinen Hutchison provide “the fruits of the independent investigation into the alleged sexual assault” including, but not limited to “all interviews of the hockey team, the victim E.M., independent witnesses, and the coaches and staff. This shall also include any digital or forensic evidence, including, but not limited to, surveillance videos, text message conversations, or social media-based conversations.”
In a July hearing conducted by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Heinen Hutchison lawyer Danielle Robitaille gave testimony, but repeatedly claimed client/solicitor privilege on the direction of Hockey Canada, leading Canada’s Minister of Sport, Pascale St-Onge to call the ethics of the investigation into question, stating it was “not independent enough.“
Robitaille also testified that when she informed Hockey Canada staff member Glen McCurdie of the need to contact London Police, he replied stating he “needed to connect with senior leadership before acting on that advice.” New information released this week also stated that “Player 1” mentioned in the redacted filings was allegedly tipped off by a Hockey Canada official that police were investigating the incident.
While the allegations have yet to be proven in court, London Police Services sergeant David Younan, who wrote the 94-page report, stated there are now sufficient grounds to believe at least five members of the World Junior team participated in the assault and that the men knew, or ought to have known that the victim had not consented. London Police had initially closed the case in 2019 without filing charges, but re-opened the case this year conducting additional interviews and seeking new information. Due to their discoveries, police are now seeking warrants to review the hotel room where the alleged assault occurred at the Delta Armories in London, Ontario, as well as to gain access to law firms involved in the initial investigations.
In his report, Younan outlined the alleged assault and the impact on the victim identified only as E.M. Younan’s report included reports that an older, well-dressed man accompanying the players at a bar in London allegedly poured a shot of alcohol into the victim's mouth and told her to “take care” of the players. His report states the victim “explicitly told the men she was not comfortable” at one point, and asked the men to stop at another point while the players took turns slapping her.
Following the election of Hockey Canada’s new board of directors, led by Hugh L. Fraser, a former judge in the Ontario Court of Justice himself, and the release of these case filings, the new board finds themselves immediately facing another crisis.
Members of the Standing Committee, including MP Anthony Housefather, have called upon Hockey Canada’s new board to act immediately to demonstrate change and provide transparency.
“Hockey Canada’s new board has an opportunity to show change in the wake of today’s revelations,” Housefather Tweeted. “1) It can share the Henein Hutchinson interim report with police. 2) It can take all steps to determine whether a rep of (Hockey Canada) tipped off Player 1 & take action if true.”
Sexual assault survivor, former junior hockey player, and lawyer Greg Gilhooly echoed Housefather’s assertions, tweeting, “Tonight would be a good time for Hockey Canada’s board to confirm, immediately, that Hockey Canada is fully complying with all authorities and has waived any solicitor-client privilege it may have with respect to this matter.”
Hockey Canada told Yahoo Sports Canada on Tuesday that they have instructed and authorized Heinen Hutchinson to comply with the court orders, and that they have "been clear that the organization will comply with any request for support from the London Police Service as it completes its investigation."
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