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Hockey Canada says players were not required to cooperate in 2018 sex assault probe – National

Junior hockey gamers who might have been concerned in an alleged sexual assault at a Hockey Canada occasion in 2018 weren’t required to cooperate in an investigation into the matter, the group’s high executives instructed MPs Monday.

Outgoing CEO Tom Renney and president and COO Scott Smith, who will quickly be changing Renney as CEO, instructed a Home of Commons committee that as an alternative gamers had been “inspired” to cooperate.

Due to that, the pair couldn’t definitively say what number of gamers participated, and gave wildly totally different solutions when pressed by lawmakers.

“I don’t know for positive, however due to the unfinished (investigation) report, there’s not far more we have now to supply when it comes to info alongside these strains,” Renney mentioned, after suggesting solely 4 to 6 gamers spoke to investigators.

“I imagine the quantity is bigger than that, I simply don’t have that at my fingertips,” Smith added, after Renney referred to him for extra “definition” to his reply. “However it undoubtedly wasn’t 4 to 6.”

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The executives had been referred to as to testify after TSN reported Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit with a girl who accused eight Canadian Hockey League gamers, together with members of the 2018 nationwide junior group that gained world junior gold that yr, of sexual assault following a Hockey Canada Basis gala in London, Ont., in June of 2018.

In keeping with the assertion of declare, the girl claimed she was repeatedly assaulted whereas intoxicated in a resort room.

She filed a $3.55-million lawsuit in opposition to Hockey Canada, the CHL and the unnamed gamers. The lawsuit was settled, however no particulars of the settlement have been launched. The allegations in opposition to the gamers had been by no means confirmed in court docket.

The Canadian Heritage committee was tasked partially to make sure no taxpayer cash was used within the settlement. Authorities help accounts for six per cent of Hockey Canada’s funding, in line with the group’s 2020-21 annual report which didn’t specify how a lot cash that’s.

Renney mentioned Monday that no public funds had been used, whereas Smith mentioned a portion of Hockey Canada’s investments was liquidated to pay for the settlement, including authorities funding is stored separate from these accounts.

However the listening to shortly expanded to bigger questions of accountability and duty.

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Renney and Smith testified that Hockey Canada notified London police and a third-party investigator, Henein Hutchison LLP, inside hours of studying of the allegations from the girl’s stepfather the day after the incident is alleged to have taken place.

Each of these investigations had been suspended in September 2020, they added, and didn’t reveal the identities of the eight gamers alleged to have been concerned.

“That third get together, nor the London Police Service, had been capable of verify who the accused had been,” Smith mentioned.

As a result of the girl didn’t want to communicate to investigators or determine her alleged abusers, there was no additional effort made to determine the gamers concerned, the executives mentioned.

Renney’s estimation that solely 4 to 6 of the 19 junior group members had been recognized to have participated within the investigations drew a few of the most concern and a spotlight from committee members.

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When pressed once more close to the top of his testimony, Smith amended the quantity once more to say he was “pretty assured” it was between 12 and 13.

“I feel the quantity Mr. Renney referred to was not essentially the quantity who did take part, however those that didn’t,” he mentioned.

Smith mentioned discussions are presently underway to vary the code of conduct in order that gamers may be compelled to take part in future investigations.

He and Renney pointed to the appointment of a director of secure sport and different steps the group is taking to enhance the tradition inside Hockey Canada. A few of these steps are direct responses to the alleged 2018 incident, together with a crackdown on underage ingesting at public occasions and a strengthening of obligatory sexual harassment coaching.

But Renney additionally admitted that “strains are blurred” between the conduct required by Hockey Canada of gamers throughout competitors and practices, and at public occasions just like the London gala — a divide the group is working to deal with.

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MPs voiced concern that the gamers concerned should be enjoying on groups, together with within the Nationwide Hockey League, and will even develop into coaches at some point. The NHL has launched its personal investigation into the matter.

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But Renney repeatedly urged these gamers would solely face disciplinary motion if the girl had been to vary her stance and are available ahead with info that might determine them.

“I’m involved that if she in reality needs to not be recognized, and at this time limit needs the gamers not be recognized, I actually don’t know what extra we are able to do alongside these strains,” he mentioned.

No disclosure of report, settlement

Renney mentioned as a result of the investigations are incomplete, a report they’ve obtained from Henein Hutchison on its findings can be incomplete and couldn’t be launched, even when redacted, as it will be “speculative.”

Smith additionally wouldn’t say if a non-disclosure settlement is in place to guard the main points of the settlement, solely telling the committee they’re “coated by settlement privilege.”

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But Sports activities Minister Pascale St-Onge later instructed the committee that Renney had referred to as her on Could 24 — two days earlier than TSN’s report was launched — to alert her to the allegations, and {that a} NDA prevented him from giving any particulars concerning the settlement.

The committee has the facility to subpoena Hockey Canada for any paperwork associated to the investigations and the settlement, which might override solicitor-client privilege.

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The executives additionally couldn’t present particulars of not less than two different separate lively investigations into sexual assault allegations involving Hockey Canada gamers.

Smith estimated Hockey Canada sees between one to 2 allegations of sexual violence reported to management per yr over the previous 5 years.

“Let me be clear, only one is simply too many,” Smith mentioned.

“We definitely have a problem. How widespread that situation is, I’m undecided. … If we have now points like this within the recreation, even when they’re restricted in scope or restricted in quantity, it’s a problem that’s essential for you and me and each Canadian, and it’s a problem that we have to eradicate from the sport.”

St-Onge instructed the committee she didn’t have particulars of another sexual assault investigations.

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She has ordered a monetary audit of the settlement, which Hockey Canada mentioned it is going to cooperate with.

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