Hockey Canada / sexual assault: Guest in the room, a player did not intervene

A player from the 2018 World Juniors hockey team who was in a hotel room in London, Ont., at the time of an alleged sexual assault, told police during their initial investigation that he had no part in the happened and left the room without knowing what he witnessed, the player’s agent told Rick Westhead TSN in an interview.

The agent said his client was invited by another player to a room at the Delta London Armories hotel on June 19, 2018.

“My guy got a text from one of his colleagues saying there was a party with pizza, so he went to the room,” the agent said. He didn’t know how to process what happened when he saw what happened in the room. He did not know if it was consensual group sex or sexual assault. »

“It is true that he did not intervene to say stop. You can judge him without a step. What would you have done in the same situation when you were a teenager? Is this something he should lose his career and reputation for? »

The agent, who requested anonymity to protect his client’s identity, said the player left the room after about ten minutes.

The player was questioned by London police in late 2018 after a woman alleged that she was sexually assaulted on June 19, 2018 in a hotel room by eight hockey players – at least some of whom were members of the Canadian team for the 2018 World Juniors. London police closed the case without filing a complaint in February 2019, they reopened the investigation.

The official said that detectives in London are now planning personal interviews with players who were in the city at the Hockey Canada Foundation event that took place the day before the alleged attack.

“My man has already spoken to the police [en 2018] and he was completely honest with them, and he will be honest when the police talk to him again, the official added. I understand that the police will be traveling to interview the players in person in the next few weeks. »

Neither the woman in the case nor the players allegedly involved are publicly known.

A London police spokesman declined to answer specific questions about the investigation.

“As this is an active criminal investigation, we are unable to comment further on the matter,” the spokesperson wrote in an email on Monday. TSN. Accurate information will be shared once the investigation is complete. »

Allegations of sexual assault have cast a cloud over Hockey Canada in recent months and raised questions about the organization’s governance.

completion TSN reported in May that Hockey Canada settled a lawsuit brought by the woman a few weeks ago, a parliamentary committee began investigating the organization’s response to the allegation.

Hockey Canada officials testified before a committee on June 20 that players on the 2018 World Juniors team initially had the option of refusing to participate in an investigation into the allegations. Hockey Canada has hired Danielle Robitaille, a lawyer from Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison LLP, to lead its investigation.

Robitaille testified on July 26 that he interviewed ten of the 18 players who were in London at the time of the alleged attack and that although he closed his investigation in 2019 because the complainant refused to talk to him, it has been opened he also has the file. Hockey Canada said it will name players who won’t cooperate with Robitaille’s investigation.

Hockey Canada is also under scrutiny after it admitted to setting up a fund called the National Equity Fund to pay lawsuits, including those related to sexual assault claims, with money from in player registrations, without notifying the parents of young hockey players in nature. in the fund. The organization has promised not to use money from this fund in the future to solve cases of sexual assault.

Hockey Canada officials also confirmed in July that they did not record the vote in the minutes after the board agreed to a closed-door meeting to settle the woman’s case this spring – on her own behalf, the Canadian Hockey League and the players allegedly involved in the incident. The organization also did not disclose the settlement to the lawyers representing the players allegedly involved.

Several sponsors cut their ties with Hockey Canada, the federal government froze its funding after the scandal and the chairman of the board, Michael Brind’Amour, resigned.

Along with London Police and Hockey Canada, the NHL is also investigating the alleged attacks. Halifax police are also investigating an alleged sexual assault involving players from the 2003 World Juniors team after three sources told TSN they watched a video that showed several players who attack a woman without response.

A lawyer representing several players under investigation said in an interview with TSN in July that their clients told London police in late 2018 that any physical contact between the players and the woman was consensual.

The woman denied it and said she gave London police an eight-page statement, five pages of photographs and four-and-a-half pages of text messages.

Shayan Shaffie, a defense lawyer in Toronto who represents clients accused of sexual assault, said in an interview that police are unlikely to charge a player who was in a hotel room without he did to encourage a sexual assault or prevent the woman from leaving.

“Generally speaking, criminal law is not about people stopping a crime in progress unless they have a specific duty of care,” said Shaffie, who was not involved in the case. There is no penalty for not acting like a good Samaritan. »

However, Shaffie said that if a player does anything to “aid and abet” an attack, it could face criminal charges.

“If they aid or abet a sexual assault, by locking a door, or encouraging partners to engage in sexual assault, or preventing the complainant from leaving the room, it can result in a player being held accountable,” Shaffie said.

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