The scandal surrounding 2018 Junior Team Canada (JCT) players could develop significantly in the coming hours as five of them have been ordered to hand themselves in to London police to face sexual assault charges.
This was reported by The Globe and Mail newspaper on Wednesday morning, citing unnamed sources. Although a deadline was set for reporting to authorities, the athletes involved could not be identified.
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“We are currently unable to provide an update,” London Police told Sportsnet on Tuesday evening. If there is further information regarding this investigation, we will contact the media.”
However, the London authorities announced in a press release that they would hold a press conference on the issue on February 5th.
In June 2018, eight skaters allegedly gang-raped a woman in a hotel room in London after a gala in that city highlighting the gold medal won by ÉCJ the previous winter. The victim then filed a lawsuit, but everything was settled out of court with a financial compensation of $3.55 million thanks to a reserve fund from Hockey Canada, which caused deep embarrassment to the national association. Additionally, several sponsors – including Nike, Tim Hortons and Imperial Oil – later left the organization.
An internal investigation was launched in the National Hockey League in May 2022 after the TSN network made initial revelations about the 2018 ÉCJ. London police, for their part, were able to conduct their own investigation by seeking permission from the Ontario Provincial Court and assuming they had reasonable grounds to believe that five members of the team had committed sexual assault, according to the Globe and Mail.
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Violence, intimidation and manipulation
The alleged victim, identified in the legal documents by the initials EM, mentioned in his application to the civil court that on the evening in question he initiated and accepted sexual acts with one of the ice hockey players present at the hotel. However, seven other people later entered the room as the woman exited the bathroom. She says she was raped, manipulated and intimidated despite repeated refusals while she cried and couldn't leave the room.
In addition, two videos of the alleged acts were said to have been made by one of the players after the alleged events.
“The two videos made by Player 1 were allegedly created to deter her from going to the police, according to EM,” said London Police Sergeant David Younan, as reported by the Globe and Mail in December 2022. Player 1 even asked her if she wanted to go to the police… and asked her to sort everything out with the police.
Asked about the news on the sidelines of the CAQ caucus in Sherbrooke, Sport, Recreation and Nature Minister Isabelle Charest said she was pleased with developments on the matter.
“I would rather say it is good news because it shows that no one is above the law.
“Since I've been in office, since I've been dealing with safety and integrity issues in sport, I've said how important it is to denounce this and then look closely, even if they may be well-known names.” to bear the consequences of their actions. So for me that’s good news.”
The minister also pointed out that, in her opinion, this is evidence that morals are changing.
“I think things are changing,” Ms. Charest said. Then the denunciations lead to a development of mentality. Seeing once again that there may be results will also change mentalities and provoke denunciations. In any case, I am optimistic for the future.”
– In collaboration with Marc-André Gagnon