The Events of June 18, 2018
In June 2018, Hockey Canada hosted the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala in London, Ontario. The event was held in honour of the 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Champions. After the Gala concluded, several players visited London's local bars located on Richmond Street. After visiting several bars, it is alleged that at some point in the night, eight players returned to their hotel room where they repeatedly sexually assaulted a young woman.1
The Civil Suit
The public remained unaware of what had transpired the night of the Gala. However, on April 22, 2022, the young woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted came forward and filed a civil suit for compensation at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.2
The Statement of Claim outlined the young woman's allegations against eight players, who she stated were all "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".3 The Claim alleged that the players engaged in various acts over many hours which collectively constituted sexual abuse and assault and that the young woman could not have consented to the acts due to her level of intoxication. Finally, the Claim also alleged that players willfully and/or negligently inflicted pain and suffering, mental humiliation and degradation on the young woman.4
In addition to naming eight players as defendants, the Claim also set out various allegations against Hockey Canada. Specifically, the Claim alleged that Hockey Canada failed to reasonably address institutionalized and systemic abuse within its organization and failed to remove the defendants from their teams, impose any sanctions, or report the conduct to the police.5
According to the Claim, the young woman has suffered tremendously since the incident. Specifically, the woman has suffered significant mental anguish and her ability to carry on a normal life has been extinguished.6
The civil suit was quickly addressed by Hockey Canada. In fact, one month after the Claim was filed, Hockey Canada announced that the matter had settled out of court.7 While the settlement will never truly make the young woman whole again, it is a necessary form of justice.
The impact of the lawsuit and subsequent settlement has been considerable. As a result of the lawsuit, Hockey Canada officials were required to testify in a parliamentary hearing. The hearing unveiled a shocking revelation: that Hockey Canada "operated multimillion-dollar reserves that were used to settle uninsurable claims, including sexual assault."8
What Happens Next?
After Hockey Canada learned about the events that transpired on the night of the Gala, they retained a well-known criminal defence law firm who conducted an independent investigation.9
The investigation has become an important puzzle piece in determining exactly who was responsible for the sexual assault. In October 2022, a significant breakthrough occurred. A judge ordered the law firm retained by Hockey Canada to provide the London police with the "fruits of the [their] independent investigation."10 While this development provides momentum to the criminal portion to the case, it remains to be seen if criminal charges will be laid.
Ultimately, the night of the Gala and the events that transpired will always be remembered as a turning point as they highlighted the prevalence of sexual assault and the significant challenges that victims face in obtaining justice.
1. Katie Strang, Dan Robson & Ian Mendes, One night in London: Allegations of sexual assault and a reckoning for Hockey Canada (https://theathletic.com/3441414/2022/07/22/hockey-canada-2018-sexual-assault/)
3. Katie Strang, NHL investigating sexual assault lawsuit against Hockey Canada, Canadian Hockey League (https://theathletic.com/3490592/2022/05/27/nhl-investigating-sexual-assault-lawsuit-against-hockey-canada-canadian-hockey-league/)
8. Dan Robson, Hockey Canada paid $1.6 million to crisis communication firm amid sexual assault scandal, VP says (https://theathletic.com/3900630/2022/11/15/hockey-canada-sexual-assault-hearings/)
9. Ashley Burke, Hockey Canada's investigation of alleged 2018 group sexual assault is complete (https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.6692955)
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