Hockey Canada reopening investigation into alleged 2018 sexual assault

Hockey Canada says they are reopening an investigation into an alleged sexual assault perpetrated by members of its junior team in 2018, after the national governing body faced growing public scrutiny and lost sponsorships in recent weeks.

The federation released an “open letter to Canadians” on Thursday, acknowledging they have not done enough to address the actions of some member of the 2018 gold-medal winning National Junior Team.

“We have heard from Canadians, players, their families, fans, sponsors and those impacted by what occurred in 2018,” reads the letter. “We know you are angry and disappointed in Hockey Canada – rightfully so.”

“We know we need to do more to address the behaviours, on and off the ice, that conflict with what Canadians want hockey to be, and which undermine the many good things that the game brings to our country.”

The incident in question occurred at an event in London, Ont. in 2018 — a woman claimed she was assaulted by members of the junior team at a Hockey Canada function.

“What happened in London was completely unacceptable and we once again apologize to Canadians, the young woman, and all those who have been impacted,” reads the letter. “Reopening the investigation is a step towards addressing the disappointment so many feel about the outcome of the process we followed.”

The woman, now 24, was seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and the unnamed players. Hockey Canada quietly settled the lawsuit in May, but no details of the settlement have been made public.

Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith testified before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in June that Hockey Canada came up with the funds and paid the entire sum of the settlement, adding no government money was used.

The NHL is also conducting an investigation into the incident since some of the players from the team now play in the league.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Hockey Canada says all players will now be required to take part in the third-party investigation, and any player who declines will be banned from the organization’s activities and programs. Players, coaches, and staff, will all be required to participate in “sexual violence and consent training.”

The body says they are also committed to creating a new “confidential complaint mechanism” to better allow victims for confidently come forward and will conduct a thorough review of the entire organization.

In the letter, the federation says they have not taken enough action to “end the culture of toxic behaviour” within the game.

Last month, the federal government said it was freezing funding to Hockey Canada amid the controversy surrounding the organization’s handling of the sexual assault allegations.

A number of corporate sponsors, including Tim Hortons, Scotiabank, Canadian Tire, and Telus, announced they were pausing their financial support until they determined the “right steps” were being taken.

With files from The Canadian Press

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