Tootoo, Upshall speak out on allegations of sexual assault involving 2003 juniors

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Three more members of Canada's 2003 men's world junior hockey team say they support an investigation into the latest sex scandal to rock Hockey Canada.

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Three more members of Canada’s 2003 men’s world junior hockey team say they support an investigation into the latest sex scandal to rock Hockey Canada.

Jordin Tootoo and Nathan Paetsch denied any involvement in the alleged group sex assault. A statement from Scottie Upshall did not specifically address involvement but echoed sentiments expressed by all those former players who have spoken up calling for an investigation.

Halifax Regional Police have opened an investigation into the incident that allegedly happened as that city hosted the international tournament 19 years ago. Tootoo, who was a member of the silver-medal winning team, issued a statement on Saturday calling for a full investigation into the “disturbing allegations.”

Hockey Canada logo at an event in Toronto on Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

“I don’t recall knowing or hearing about the incident in question during or after the tournament,” Tootoo wrote on Twitter. “I was shocked when I heard about it in the media and will co-operate fully with any investigation.”

Carlo Colaiacovo and P-A Parenteau, who were also on the 2003 national junior team, issued statements on Friday saying they were not involved in the alleged sexual assault and they would also participate in any investigations.

Upshall, another teammate who now hosts a podcast called “Missin Curfew,” said in a tweet he favours a full investigation.

“I fully support thorough investigations by the police and the NHL into the claims made in the media yesterday about Canada’s 2003 World Juniors team,” said Upshall.

A statement posted to a Twitter account under Paetsch’s name says he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the allegations and he would fully co-operate with any investigation.

“As a member of that team I would like to make clear that I had no involvement or knowledge of the alleged incident whatsoever,” the post says.

Hockey Canada said it learned about the alleged sexual assault on Thursday and immediately informed Sport Canada and Halifax police of the allegations.

In 2015 Tootoo wrote a memoir titled “All The Way,” where he discussed his experiences playing for Canada at the world juniors, including how the team was made up of “horny young men.”

“(It) wasn’t just one-on-one action,” wrote Tootoo in his book. “A few of the guys would get a couple of girls after practice and head into one of the rooms. Enough said.”

Tootoo acknowledged on Saturday that his memoir touched on the team’s sexual exploits, but also said he was struggling with alcohol addiction at the time. It was in that context that he said he couldn’t recall knowing or hearing about the alleged sexual assault.

Hockey Canada has already had funding from the federal government and corporate sponsors paused following allegations of a sexual assault involving eight members of the 2018 men’s junior hockey team.

Those allegations came to light after it was reported by media that Hockey Canada paid out an undisclosed settlement to the complainant after she sued the organization, the Canadian Hockey League, and the eight unnamed players. The woman was seeking $3.55 million.

On Wednesday, London, Ont., police chief Steve Williams ordered a review of that force’s initial sexual assault investigation in June 2018. He said on Friday that, following the review, London police would reopen their probe.

The Canadian Press reported on Monday that Hockey Canada has maintained a fund that draws on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. Hockey Canada confirmed on Tuesday that the fund exists but it would no longer be used to pay out claims over sexual assault allegations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2022.

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