Timeline: Hockey Canada’s handling of 2018 sexual assault allegation


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A timeline of Hockey Canada's response to an alleged sexual assault involving eight players in London, Ont., in 2018:

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/07/2022 (311 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A timeline of Hockey Canada’s response to an alleged sexual assault involving eight players in London, Ont., in 2018:

Jan. 5, 2018 — Canada’s world junior hockey team defeats Sweden in the gold-medal final in Buffalo, N.Y.

June 18, 2018 — Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf event begins in London.

Hockey Canada logo is seen at an event in Toronto on November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

June 19, 2018 — A woman’s stepfather informs Hockey Canada she alleges she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the world junior team, while intoxicated the previous night following the event. Hockey Canada says it spoke with its insurance provider and then informed London police, which opened an investigation. Hockey Canada subsequently opened its own third-party investigation using a Toronto law firm.

June 2018 — Hockey Canada says it informed Sport Canada of the alleged incident.

February 2019 — Hockey Canada says London police informed the federation its criminal investigation was closed. Hockey Canada says the woman declined to speak with authorities or its own investigators.

September 2020 — Hockey Canada says it closed its investigation.

April 2022 — The woman files a statement of claim seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the eight unnamed players.

May 2022 — Hockey Canada settles the lawsuit with the woman for an undisclosed amount out of court.

May 2022 — Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney calls Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, whose file includes Hockey Canada, to tell her TSN will be breaking the story in the coming days. St-Onge says the conversation is the first time she’s heard of the alleged incident or settlement.

May 26, 2022 — TSN reports the details of the alleged assault and settlement.

June 2, 2022 — St-Onge orders a forensic audit of Hockey Canada to ensure no public funds were used as part of the settlement.

June 20, 2022 — Renney and Hockey Canada president Scott Smith are grilled by MPs during a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting about the organization’s response to the situation. Smith and Renney testify the 19 players present in London were “strongly encouraged” to speak with third-party investigators, but not mandated to do so. Hockey Canada adds it does not know the identities of the eight players in question. Smith testifies Hockey Canada has reported three sexual assault complaints in recent years, including the London incident, but won’t discuss the other two in front of the committee.

June 22, 2022 — St-Onge announces a freeze to Hockey Canada’s federal funding until the organization discloses recommendations made by the third-party law firm and becomes a signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new government agency with the power to investigate abuse complaints and levy sanctions.

June 22, 2002 — The House of Commons unanimously approves a Bloc Québécois motion to pursue an independent investigation that will look into how Hockey Canada dealt with the allegations.

June 28, 2022 — Scotiabank announces it is pausing sponsorship of Hockey Canada until the financial institution is confident the right steps are taken to improve the culture within the sport. Retail giant Canadian Tire and telecommunications company Telus follow suit later in the day, withdrawing support from the pandemic-delayed world junior hockey championship in August.

June 29, 2022 — Tim Hortons and Imperial Oil, under its Esso brand, join a growing list of companies to pull sponsorship dollars.

June 30, 2022 — NHL defenceman Victor Mete, a member of the 2018 world junior team, says he was not involved in the alleged assault, adding in a social media post he was on vacation with his family at the time. Mete says he’s “deeply troubled by reports of this incident” and will fully co-operate with investigators if requested.

June 30, 2022 — Renney retires as CEO of Hockey Canada after announcing a succession plan in April that tabbed Smith take over on July 1.

July 1, 2022 — Smith takes over as CEO of Hockey Canada. He also remains president of the federation.

July 14, 2022 — Hockey Canada says in an open letter to Canadians it is reopening a third-party investigation into the alleged 2018 assault. The sport’s national federation adds participation by the players in question will be mandatory, and that anyone who declines will be banned from all activities and programs. Hockey Canada says it now requires players, coaches, team staff and volunteers associated with its high-performance program to participate in mandatory sexual violence and consent training. It will also conduct a third-party review of the organization’s governance, and commits to become a full signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. Hockey Canada adds it will also create an “independent and confidential complaint mechanism” to provide victims and survivors tools and support to come forward.

July 18, 2022 — The Canadian Press is first to report Hockey Canada has maintained a fund that draws on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. The detail is included in a July 2021 affidavit sworn by Glen McCurdie, who was then Hockey Canada’s vice-president of insurance and risk management, as part of a lawsuit launched by an injured player in Ontario.

July 19, 2022 — Hockey Canada confirms the existence of the “National Equity Fund” in a statement, adding it covers a “broad range of expenses related to safety, wellness and equity initiatives” across the organization. “The fund is also used to pay for the organization’s insurance premiums and to cover any claims not otherwise covered by insurance policies, including those related to physical injury, harassment, and sexual misconduct,” the statement read. Hockey Canada says the fund was “established in a manner consistent with reserve funds maintained by other large national organizations.”

July 19, 2022 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasts Hockey Canada’s leadership over the “National Equity Fund” being used to settle sexual abuse claims. “I think right now it’s hard for anyone in Canada to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada,” Trudeau tells reporters on Bowen Island, B.C. “What we’re learning … is absolutely unacceptable.”

July 19, 2022 — St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas, a member of the 2018 world junior team, joins a growing list of players from the roster to deny involvement in the alleged assault.

July 20, 2022 — Hockey Canada says it will no longer use its “National Equity Fund” to settle sexual assault claims.

July 20, 2022 — Police in London order an internal review of their investigation into the alleged 2018 sexual assault. Chief Steve Williams says in a statement his department’s review will determine if any “additional investigative avenues may exist.” He adds the original investigation, which concluded without charges, was “lengthy and detailed.”

July 21, 2022 — Trudeau says there needs to be a “real reckoning” at Hockey Canada. Speaking to reporters in Elmsdale, N.S., Trudeau adds the federation “has to do an awful lot” to regain the trust of Canadians.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2022.

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