Trudeau rebukes Hockey Canada over alleged gang rape

·2-min read

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday blasted Hockey Canada over its handling of an alleged gang rape by eight players, saying it must do much more to regain the country's trust.

"There needs to be real reckoning with the kind of behavior that we saw from that organization and its willful blindness" to sexual misconduct, Trudeau told a news conference.

"Their behavior over these past years and indeed, over these past months, has been not worthy of an organization that embodies so many hopes and dreams for young Canadians," he said.

"Hockey Canada needs to do an awful lot as an organization to gain back the trust of Canadians."

A lawsuit filed in April by the victim, identified only as "E.M." in court documents, against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the players was settled without attracting attention until local reports began circulating at the beginning of June about the alleged rape.

The woman claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a London, Ontario hotel after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.

Hockey Canada executives were grilled last month by lawmakers about the settlement and efforts to get to the bottom of the allegations, which they testified had been stymied by a lack of voluntary participation by players.

Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge had been especially critical of Hockey Canada for its apparent lapse in "holding the players accountable," and suspended the body's federal funding until several criteria are met.

Since then, Hockey Canada has vowed to try to meet those demands, including mandating sexual violence and consent training for all of its players and coaches, and signing on with a new federal agency that has the power to sanction abuses in sports.

It also relaunched a botched investigation into the rape allegations, announced a governance review, and said it would no longer use a special fund -- built through player registration fees, according to the Globe and Mail -- to settle sexual misconduct claims.

Lawyers representing several of the players accused but not named in the lawsuit have reportedly denied any wrongdoing, saying the sex was consensual.

They also rejected Hockey Canada's account, saying in a letter to the national governing body cited by Canadian media that they "never had a chance to challenge the very serious allegations."

London, Ontario police chief Steve Williams, meanwhile, said Thursday a decision to close a criminal investigation into the rape claim without laying charges in February 2019 would be reviewed.

amc/wd

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting