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Hockey Canada scandal, explained: Five members of 2018 World Juniors team facing charges of sexual assault

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.

The names in an investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving members of the 2018 Canada World Juniors hockey team could be revealed at some point in the near future. 

The Globe and Mail reported on Jan. 24 that five players from the 2018 team have been told to surrender to face charges of sexual assault. The names of the players have not been revealed yet, and they have not been formerly charged.

The Globe also reported that the players have been given a set period of time to present themselves at London police headquarters.

This investigation has been ongoing for an extended period of time now. In March of 2023, TSN’s Rick Westhead reported that The Heritage Committee had unanimously voted for a motion directing Hockey Canada to hand over law firm Henein Hutchison’s final report detailing its investigation into the alleged sexual assault. 

While the report may have been handed over, the results and members involved in the allegations have not been made public. 

Police investigators in London, Ont., said in December of 2022 that they had “reasonable grounds” to believe that five members of the 2018 Canada World Juniors hockey team sexually assaulted a woman in a hotel room after a Hockey Canada fundraising gala, according to a court filing to the Ontario Court of Justice. 

The 94-page document that was filed with the court system in October provides an outline of what allegedly occurred on June 19, 2018, with some parts of the files redacted. Charges have yet to be filed. 

The sexual assault allegations initially were investigated by London Police in 2018, however, the case was closed in February 2019 without any charges. The investigation was reopened in 2022.

Hockey Canada stated on Dec. 20 that their investigation had concluded and an adjunction panel would determine if any sanctions need to be imposed. They would keep the results confidential as the London Police continues with its investigation. 

In addition, Hockey Canada said last year that no player from the 2018 World Juniors team is eligible to play for Canada’s national team in any IIHF event for the foreseeable future. 

Here is more information on the sexual assault allegations and the latest court filings. 

What are the sexual assault allegations against Hockey Canada?

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.

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 did Hockey Canada reopen 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 World Juniors until change occurred with the organization. 

As a result, Hockey Canada signed onto OSIC and reopened its investigation in July. 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.”

In addition, the organization announced a number of changes. According to Hockey Canada’s statement, 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 five players involved in sexual assault allegations?

The five players involved in the allegations have remained anonymous, however, a multitude of players on the 2018 Canadian world junior team either put out personal statements or their agents have issued statements on behalf of their clients, stating they were not involved.

Victor Mete and Jordan Kyrou confirmed that they did not attend the gala and were not in London at the time of the incident. 

The following players have come out either via personal statement or with their agency to say that they were not involved with the allegations: Jake Bean, Kale Clague, Max Comtois, Dillon Dube, Dante Fabbro, Cal Foote, Jonah Gadjovich, Carter Hart, Brett Howden, Cale Makar, Colton Point, Taylor Raddysh, Sam Steel, Tyler Steenbergen, Robert Thomas and Conor Timmins.

The following players have stated that they have fully cooperated with the investigation but declined to comment further: Boris Katchouk, Drake Batherson and Michael McLeod. 

Alex Formenton is the lone player that has not made any comments to date.

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