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23 Jul, 2022 13:55

Hockey Canada again disgraced by fresh sexual assault allegations

Hockey Canada has again had to react to news of an alleged 2003 sexual assault
Hockey Canada again disgraced by fresh sexual assault allegations

Police in Nova Scotia and Ontario are looking into alleged group sexual assaults carried out by members of Canada's 2003 and 2018 world junior hockey teams.

Friday saw Halifax Regional Police in Nova Scotia confirm that they are reviewing an alleged assault at the 2003 junior world championships, and then their counterparts in London, Ontario say that they are reopening an investigation into an already publicized 2018 incident. 

News of the investigations is just the latest chapter in a crisis that has rocked Hockey Canada and led to its funding being suspended by the Canadian federal government while also being criticized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Commenting on the development, Canadian Sports Minister Pascal St-Onge, who stripped Hockey Canada of its funding, said: "Today we learn of yet another horror story that allegedly occurred in 2003. Once again, like all Canadians, I am appalled and angry." 

"It is clear that the culture of silence and the trivialization of sexual violence is well entrenched in the culture of this sport," St-Onge went on.

"Hockey Canada has a lot of work to do on this issue before they regain the trust of Canadians. Anyone with information about the events of 2003, or any other such event, should report it to the police," he demanded.

In a statement on Friday, Hockey Canada said it was "committed to bringing an end to the culture of silence in hockey".

"That is why we are publicly calling for anyone with knowledge of this incident to come forward to police, and we are being transparent in how we learned of this alleged assault and the steps we are taking to address it," the organization stressed.

Hockey Canada pointed out that it only became aware of the alleged 2003 incident after it was contacted by Canadian media outlet TSN on Thursday for comment. After this, Hockey Canada says it immediately contacted Halifax Police and Sport Canada.

This aside, Hockey Canada said members of staff had heard rumors about "something bad" that happened at the 2003 world junior championships a fortnight ago but wasn't able to obtain any concrete details until TSN reached out. 

Separately, member of parliament John Nater says he was contacted earlier this week by a person claiming to have information regarding the alleged 2003 sexual assault which he then forwarded to Halifax police while encouraging the informant to directly contact them as well.

TSN also reports that a source got in touch with Nater and described a video clip of the alleged sexual assault to him.

TSN has spoken to the source too, plus two others who claim to have watched the video. All three people have corroborated that the footage shows around six players from the Canadian junior team having sex with a non-responsive woman laying face up on a pool table.

One TSN source out of the three explained how one of the 2003 players borrowed a video camera during the tournament, which took place in Halifax, with the recording left on the camera when it was returned to the owner.

That person was then pressured by the players to delete the footage and also never report it to police. 

Of the 2003 players, defender Carlo Colaiacovo has already released a statement and said that it was "important that everyone is aware" that he had "no involvement or knowledge of any incidents whatsoever".

"I will co-operate fully with any investigations," Colaiacovo also vowed.

P-A Parenteau, who was a forward on the silver medal-winning team and like Colaiacovo progressed to the NHL, told The Canadian Press that he had no knowledge about the alleged sexual assault until Friday either.

Calling the allegations a "shock", he also said he was "definitely not involved" in the incident.

Hockey Canada had its funding cut by the federal government following accusations of an alleged sexual assault by eight members of the men’s junior hockey team in 2018.

These allegations only came to light when it was reported by the Canadian media how Hockey Canada had paid out an undisclosed settlement fee to the female complainant who was seeking $3.55 million in damages.

This week, Prime Minister Trudeau said he understood why Canadians are "disgusted" with Hockey Canada after news emerged that it has a special legal fund for paying uninsured liabilities, which includes claims of sexual abuse.