Source says he told police names of 2 hockey players in 2003 video of alleged sexual assault

Hockey Canada has appointed a lawyer as the new chair of its board of directors amid mounting public pressure for a major overhaul of leadership over its handling of sexual assault allegations. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Hockey Canada has appointed a lawyer as the new chair of its board of directors amid mounting public pressure for a major overhaul of leadership over its handling of sexual assault allegations. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Warning: This story contains sexually graphic details that may be disturbing to readers

Halifax police now have the names of at least two members of the 2003 World Junior hockey team who may have appeared in a video of an alleged group sexual assault nearly two decades ago, CBC News has learned.

A person who was shown a video of the alleged incident after it occurred in 2003 said that, in a recent interview with police, he reported the identities of two players he recognized in the video.

"[The video] made me sick to my stomach," the source told CBC News. "I knew what I was watching was wrong.

"I recognized two of the players and both of them went on to have NHL careers."

CBC News agreed to keep confidential the identity of the person who saw the video because he said he fears he could suffer negative repercussions, both professionally and personally.

Police launched an investigation into the sexual assault allegations in July after TSN first learned of the alleged video during the height of the Hockey Canada scandal that has rocked the sports world.

In recent months, major sponsors have cut ties with Hockey Canada, the federal government has frozen its funding and a parliamentary committee has launched public hearings on the organization's handling of sexual assault claims.

Police in Canada are investigating three separate alleged group sexual assaults involving junior hockey players between 2003 and 2018. All three cases involve allegations that groups of players degraded a lone intoxicated woman. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Police in London, Ont. and Quebec City reopened investigations over the past month in response to public outrage over the lack of charges.

WATCH/ Quebec City police reopening Gatineau Olympiques group sexual assault allegations:

The source said he told Halifax police he recognized the 2003 World Junior player holding the camcorder at the beginning of the video because he held the camera up to his face.

The source said the recording showed the player "hyping-up" what he was about to show inside a hotel room. The hockey player, the source said, looked into the lens and said "this is going to be a f—ing lamb roast" — a slang term for sexual activity involving a group of men and one woman.

The source said he also identified for Halifax police a second player he saw standing outside a room on the video.

The video showed the two men then entering a room where a woman, who appeared to be heavily intoxicated, was lying face-up on a bed surrounded by five or six other naked players, the source said.

As one of those players penetrated the woman, the others stood around the woman masturbating and appeared to be waiting for their turn, the source said.

"Her head was just turned to the side and she wasn't active," the source said.

(TSN reported previously that the alleged incident took place on a pool table. However, the source told CBC News he recalls it took place on a bed in a room.)

'This still was eating me up inside'

The source said the video was taken in 2003 when the World Juniors were playing in Halifax. The star-studded team took home the silver medal that year and several of its players went on to long careers in the NHL.

TSN first reported on the video in July and spoke to two other people who viewed it, including the owner of the camera. The owner lent the camera to members of the team and found the recording on it when it was returned, TSN said.

The camera owner showed it to at least two other people, TSN said.

The source to whom CBC spoke said he didn't report the video nearly two decades ago because he was raised to "shut up, you don't say anything."

"All I knew for myself back then was that it was wrong," the source said. "I didn't know these kinds of things got reported to police."

The source said he's not sure what happened to the recording — which he said was about 90 seconds long — or whether it still exists. The source said he has been haunted by what he saw ever since.

"Every time the World Juniors would come on, my stomach would get hard and I would think of that girl," he said.

"This still was eating me up inside."

WATCH/ Hockey Canada has paid 21 settlements for sexual misconduct since 1989: 

The source said he spoke up after seeing news of the 2018 alleged group sexual assault. He said he hopes the police investigation helps the victim "find some level of healing."

The source said he believes there could be other such cases involving hockey players that haven't been reported yet.

"There's a sense of bravado that 'boys will be boys,' and boys can get away with doing things," he said.

"There's not a lot of accountability for people in sport. They can get away with things where others can't. They should be held accountable."

Handful of players released statements about allegations

Since TSN first reported on the video in July, five of 22 members of Canada's 2003 World Junior team have addressed the allegations.

Former NHL players and 2003 World Junior members Jordin Tootoo, Nathan Paetsch, Carlo Colaiacovo and P.A. Parenteau issued statements saying they were not involved in or had no knowledge of the alleged incident. Another former player, Scottie Upshall, called for an investigation.

Lise Gotell, a leading expert on sexual assault consent law in Canada, said case law is showing a trend toward perpetrators videotaping sexual assaults — sometimes as a "trophy."

Individuals' memories of a video can be used as evidence to help prosecute a case, she said. Since the Criminal Code was amended in 1983, however, corroborating evidence isn't required to prosecute sexual assault allegations, she said.

"Convictions have been entered on the strength of the complainant's testimony alone," said Gotell, a gender studies professor at the University of Alberta specializing in sexual assault law.

WATCH | Man says videotape of alleged assault still haunts him:

But Gotell said policing is a male-dominated field that has fairly high rates of "rape-myth acceptance" and "not a very sophisticated understanding of the law of consent," which can lead to investigations being closed without charges.

Gotell said the mounting allegations against elite hockey players in Canada would suggest a disturbing pattern of behaviour if they turn out to be true.

"If the allegations in these cases were true and what we're seeing in these cases is a form of male bonding ritual that is about the abuse of women … that is extremely, extremely disturbing," she said.

Police won't say if a victim has come forward

Halifax police have declined to say whether a victim has come forward while the matter remains under investigation.

"We encourage anyone with information to reach out to police," said Halifax Police Const. Bryan Peroni.

Hockey Canada said it learned about the alleged group sexual assault involving members of the 2002-2003 national junior team on July 21 and alerted authorities.

"We immediately contacted Halifax Regional Police, notified Sport Canada of the information shared with us and hired a third-party investigator to investigate the alleged incident," Hockey Canada spokesperson Jeremy Knight said in a media statement sent to CBC News.

The hockey organization said the well-known defence firm Henein Hutchison — which it hired to investigate allegations of a group sexual assault by members of the 2018 World Junior team in London, Ont. — is not the same firm it commissioned to investigate the 2003 allegations.

CBC News has asked the NHL if it's investigating the 2003 allegations or has taken any action. The league has not yet responded. The NHL launched an investigation of the 2018 allegation to be led by Jared Maples, the league's senior vice president of security, who used to be the director of homeland security for the State of New Jersey.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.