(Ottawa) Deploring the “speculative” coverage of gang rape allegations against eight former Canadian Hockey League (CHL) players, the former CEO of Hockey Canada swears we never wanted to “camouflage” the alleged assault. The athletes who are the subject of the lawsuit did not spend a penny of their money to settle the case out of court.
Posted at 4:29 pm
Updated at 5:03 pm
In his opening remarks before the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee on Monday, outgoing Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said the organization was not looking to “sweep the matter under the rug.”
He was joined by Scott Smith, President and COO of Hockey Canada, Dave Andrews, President of the Hockey Canada Foundation, and attorney Andrew Winton. However, the latter had no right to speak to the elected officials during this committee hearing.
On April 20, a young woman filed a lawsuit for $3.55 million, including $2 million in past and future property damages and $1 million in punitive damages, against eight former Canadian Hockey League (CHL) players, against the league itself. and against Hockey. Canada.
However, the organization very quickly became aware of the alleged events, which date back to the night of June 18-19, as reported by Press. This was confirmed by Tom Renney to the elected members of the committee, saying that he was informed of the incident on June 19, 2018.
As for the police authorities, they were alerted “between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.” on the night of June 19, said Scott Smith, to his right.
Not a penny from the players
The settlement check was signed by Hockey Canada “on behalf of all defenders,” meaning the hockey players involved paid nothing, Scott Smith said in response to questions from liberal Anthony Housefather, who seemed surprised by this. revelation.
And the identity of the athletes, the organization says not to know.
If we had known what their jersey number was, it is very likely that we would have sanctioned these players, Mr. Smith argued, relying on the alleged victim’s willingness not to identify his attackers.
At the committee table, we were alarmed. Because these suspected attackers could now be players from a National Hockey League (NHL) or American League team. They could be coaches. The anonymity that the confidential agreement confers on them is unacceptable, the elected officials argued.
The gang rape allegedly took place in London, Ontario, hours after a gala hosted by Hockey Canada on the sidelines of its foundation’s annual golf tournament.
Another revelation, and a contradiction, made elected officials jump. Tom Renney and Scott Smith skated in response to a question from Neo-Democratic MP Peter Julian, who asked them about the number of players seen as part of the independent internal survey conducted by the firm Henein Hutchison LLP.
The first said there were four or six.
The second contradicted him saying that number was higher, and that the firm’s researchers found “12 or 13” players.
The alleged victim, now 24, accuses the junior players, some of whom had just won junior world championship gold with the Canadian team, of assaulting her in a hotel room over breakfast that morning.
TSN reporter Rick Westhead was the first to report on the case, citing the 18-page lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court. The document, which Press has obtained since then, does not identify either the young woman or her attackers.
When asked to assess the number of allegations of sexual misconduct that Hockey Canada has become aware of in recent years, Scott Smith estimated that “one or two cases per year” have occurred “in the last five or six years.” .
On April 20, 2022, the day the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed, Tom Renney announced his resignation.
Pure coincidence, he said at the committee table. “There is no connection,” she snapped.
The appearance of St-Onge to come
Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge will appear before the committee in the late afternoon.
In early June, he asked Hockey Canada, an organization that receives funding from the federal government, to send him a financial audit to determine whether the organization used taxpayer money to settle out of court with the victim.
“I want to know if taxpayer money was used to cover up this gang rape story,” he explained when announcing the opening of this investigation.
The Commons committee was supposed to hear on Monday from former senior vice president for insurance and risk management within the federation, Glen McCurdie, but the latter withdrew for personal reasons.
The Bloc Québécois, the party behind these hearings, has been told that the committee could send them an invitation.
With Simon-Olivier Lorange, Guillaume Lefrançois and Joël-Denis Bellavance, Press
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