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Hockey Canada denies failing to probe, trying to hide gang rape

(AFP)

Hockey Canada officials on Monday rejected suggestions that it failed to investigate or tried to hide an alleged 2018 gang rape by eight players, in testimony before a parliamentary committee.

A lawsuit filed by a 24-year-old woman in April against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the players had been settled without attracting attention until local reports began circulating at the beginning of June.

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According to sports broadcaster TSN, the woman, identified only as “E.M.” in court documents, claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a London, Ontario hotel after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.

She said the assailants were all Canadian Hockey League players, some of whom played in the World Juniors 2017-2018 and some of whom went on to the NHL.

Testifying at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Hockey Canada chief executive Tom Renney said the organization advised police of the sexual assault accusations on the same day it learned of them, or one day after the alleged assault took place.

“Hockey Canada is aware of reports suggesting that we failed to investigate this incident, attempted to cover it up, and generally swept this matter under the rug,” Renney said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He noted that at the request of the alleged victim, neither she nor the eight players whom she accused were ever publicly identified.

Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge launched an audit of Hockey Canada after learning of the allegations to ensure no public funds were used to settle the woman’s lawsuit against Hockey Canada.

St-Onge was also critical of Hockey Canada for its apparent lapse in “holding the players accountable”.

“I can assure you that no government funds were used in this settlement,” Renney said, adding that Hockey Canada instead used monies from ticket sales, merchandising and investments.

He noted that Hockey Canada also hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation, which has not been made public.

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