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Report: 5 members of the 2018 Canadian junior hockey team face sexual assault charges

Report: 5 members of the 2018 Canadian junior hockey team face sexual assault charges

Police in London, Ont., have not confirmed a report that five members of Canada's 2018 world junior hockey team have been asked to surrender to authorities to face sexual assault charges.

The Globe and Mail, citing two unnamed sources, reported on Wednesday that the pending charges are related to an alleged gang sexual assault of a woman in a hotel room.

The incident allegedly occurred after a Hockey Canada ceremony in June 2018 where players were honored for winning that year's World Junior Championship.

A number of players from this team are now in the NHL.

None of these allegations have been proven in court.

London Police said in a statement that they are unable to provide an update on their investigations at this time but will contact the media when there is more information to share.

A woman identified as EM in court documents filed a $3.35 million lawsuit in the spring of 2022 that was quickly settled out of court by Hockey Canada.

The subsequent revelation that the national organization maintained a fund that relied on minor hockey fees to pay uninsured liabilities, including sexual assault lawsuits, led to an unprecedented backlash against the sport's governing body.

Hockey Canada's governance and transparency were then called into question, leading to a series of parliamentary hearings.

Officials testified to parliamentarians in June 2022 that the organization “strongly encouraged” the 19 players at the London ceremony to speak to its external investigators, but they were not mandated to do so.

President and CEO Scott Smith left Hockey Canada in October 2022, the same day the entire Board of Directors resigned.

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London police closed an initial investigation in February 2019 without bringing charges, but reopened the case in 2022.

The lead investigator wrote in legal documents submitted to Ontario courts in December 2022 that there were reasons to believe a woman was sexually assaulted by five players on the junior varsity team.

The NHL also launched its own investigation.

Along with Hockey Canada and London Police, three separate investigations were conducted into an incident that has cast a long shadow over the sport in Canada.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly said the league's analysis of the situation is nearing its conclusion.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stated in June that the League's investigation into the matter had concluded and that the League was in contact with London Police.

Daly said in an email on Wednesday that the league will issue a statement “if and when it becomes appropriate.”

Hockey Canada said in November that the findings of the independent third-party report are under appeal.

All players on Canada's 2018 junior national team have been ruled out of international events.

A Hockey Canada official told a parliamentary committee during a hearing that the organization has paid $7.6 million in nine settlements related to sexual assault and abuse since 1989, not including the London incident.

Several companies have withdrawn or discontinued their sponsorship of Hockey Canada, while Nike pulled out for good this summer.

Smith took the additional CEO title from the retiring Tom Rennie on July 1, 2022, in the midst of the scandal, but resigned three months later amid intense calls for him to quit.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2024.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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