Canada’s sports minister orders a forensic examination of Hockey Canada following a lawsuit

Editor’s note: The following story is about sexual assault and may be disturbing to some readers.

If you or someone you know needs support, you can find province-specific centers, hotlines, and services throughout Canada here. For readers in America, there is a list of resources and references for survivors and their families here.

Canada’s Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said Thursday she was launching an investigation into whether public funds were used in the settlement of a lawsuit brought by Hockey Canada by an individual alleging sexual assault by some of the organization’s players.

Before Question Time on Parliament Hill, in a scrum with reporters, St-Onge said she would conduct “a forensic review” to ensure no public money was used to settle the lawsuit and that players will be held accountable. She added that “Canadians deserve to know.”

“The purpose of the financial audit is to ensure that Hockey Canada has honored its funding agreement with Sports Canada and to ensure that no public funds have been used to fulfill that agreement.” said St-Onge in French.

Hockey Canada said last week it had reached a settlement with an individual who claims to have been sexually assaulted by members of the 2017-18 junior men’s national hockey team. The organization confirmed the agreement in a statement to Sportsnet.

TSN’s Rick Westhead was the first to report on the lawsuit and settlement.

The allegations, which have not gone to court, date back to 2018 and concern players who were in the 2017-18 men’s U20 national youth team, which won gold at the annual tournament in late December. According to the complaint, the alleged attack occurred in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada Foundation event in London, Ontario.

In its statement, Hockey Canada said it immediately contacted local authorities after learning of the alleged attacks in 2018 and hired Henein Hutchison LLP to “conduct a thorough independent internal investigation and make recommendations on areas for improvement, which we implemented.” have and will continue to pursue.”

Hockey Canada says the person making the allegations chose not to speak to police or Hockey Canada’s independent investigator. That person also chose not to identify the players involved, Hockey Canada said.

In its own May 26 statement, the NHL said it was notified of the lawsuit two days in advance and that the specific allegations in the lawsuit were “both heinous and reprehensible.”

“We will endeavor to establish the underlying facts, and to the extent that this may affect players who are now in the NHL, we will determine what action, if any, would be appropriate,” the league said.

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