Timeline: Hockey Canada’s handling of the 2018 sexual assault allegation
Timeline of Hockey Canada’s response to an alleged sexual assault involving eight players in London, Ontario in 2018:
January 5, 2018 — The Canadian World Junior Hockey Team defeats Sweden in the Gold Medal Final in Buffalo, NY
June 18, 2018 — The Hockey Canada Foundation Golf and Gala event begins in London.
June 19, 2018 — A woman’s stepfather informs Hockey Canada that she alleges she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the World Junior Team, while intoxicated the previous night after the event. Hockey Canada says it spoke with its insurance provider and then informed London police, who opened an investigation. Hockey Canada subsequently initiated its own third-party investigation using a Toronto law firm.
June 2018 — Hockey Canada says it informed Sport Canada of the alleged incident.
February 2019 — Hockey Canada says London police have informed the federation that their criminal investigation is closed. Hockey Canada says the woman refused to speak to authorities or her own investigators.
September 2020 — Hockey Canada declares that it has closed its investigation.
April 2022 — The woman files a statement seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the eight Players Anonymous.
May 2022 — Hockey Canada settles the lawsuit with the woman for an undisclosed amount.
May 2022 — Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney calls Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge, whose file includes Hockey Canada, to tell her that TSN will be breaking the story in the coming days. St-Onge says the conversation is the first time she’s heard of the incident or the alleged settlement.
May 26, 2022 — TSN reports details of the alleged assault and settlement.
June 2, 2022 — St-Onge orders a forensic audit of Hockey Canada to ensure that no public funds were used in the settlement.
June 20, 2022 – Renney and Hockey Canada President Scott Smith are questioned by MPs during a meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage about the organization’s response to the situation. Smith and Renney testify that the 19 players in London were « strongly encouraged » to speak with third-party investigators, but not mandated to do so. Hockey Canada adds that it does not know the identity of the eight players in question. Smith testified that Hockey Canada has reported three sexual assault complaints in recent years, including the London incident, but will not discuss the other two before the committee.
June 22, 2022 — St-Onge announces a federal funding freeze for Hockey Canada until the organization discloses the recommendations made by the third-party law firm and becomes a signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new agency authority with the power to investigate complaints of abuse and impose sanctions.
June 22, 2022 — The House of Commons unanimously approves a Bloc Québécois motion to conduct an independent inquiry that will examine Hockey Canada’s handling of the allegations.
June 28, 2022 — Scotiabank announces it is suspending Hockey Canada sponsorship until the financial institution is satisfied that the right steps are being taken to improve the culture within the sport. Retail giant Canadian Tire and telecommunications company Telus followed suit later in the day, withdrawing their support for the pandemic-delayed World Junior Hockey Championship in August.
June 29, 2022 — Tim Hortons and Imperial Oil, under its Esso brand, join a growing list of companies to draw sponsorship dollars.
June 30, 2022 – NHL defenseman Victor Mete, a member of the 2018 World Junior Team, said he was not involved in the alleged assault, adding in a social media post that he was in holiday with his family at the time. Mete says he is « deeply troubled by reports of this incident » and will cooperate fully with investigators if requested.
June 30, 2022 — Renney is retiring as CEO of Hockey Canada after announcing a succession plan in April that Smith will take over on July 1.
July 1, 2022 — Smith becomes CEO of Hockey Canada. He also remains president of the federation.
July 14, 2022 — Hockey Canada announces in an open letter to Canadians that it is reopening an independent investigation into the alleged assault in 2018. The national sport federation adds that the participation of the players in question will be mandatory and that anyone who refuses will be banned from all activities and programs. Hockey Canada says it now requires players, coaches, team staff and volunteers associated with its high performance program to participate in mandatory sexual violence and consent training. He will also conduct a third-party governance review of the organization and commits to becoming a full signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. Hockey Canada adds that it will also create an « independent and confidential complaints mechanism » to provide victims and survivors with tools and support to come forward.
July 18, 2022 — The Canadian Press is the first to report that Hockey Canada has maintained a fund that taps into minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. The detail is included in a July 2021 affidavit signed by Glen McCurdie, who was then Hockey Canada’s vice-president of insurance and risk management, in a lawsuit brought by an injured player in Ontario.
July 19, 2022 — Hockey Canada confirms the existence of the “National Equity Fund” in a press release, adding that it covers a “wide range of expenses related to safety, well-being and equity initiatives” in the whole organization. « The fund is also used to pay the organization’s insurance premiums and to cover any claims not covered by insurance policies, including those related to physical injury, harassment and sexual misconduct, » it says. the press release. Hockey Canada says the fund was « established in a manner consistent with reserve funds maintained by other major national organizations. »
July 19, 2022 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lambastes Hockey Canada’s leadership over the use of the « National Equity Fund » to settle sexual abuse claims. « I think right now it’s hard for anyone in Canada to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada, » Trudeau told reporters in Bowen Island, British Columbia. « What we are learning…is absolutely unacceptable. »
July 19, 2022 – St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas, a member of the 2018 World Junior Team, joins a growing list of roster players to deny any involvement in the alleged assault.
July 20, 2022 — Hockey Canada says it will no longer use its “National Equity Fund” to settle sexual assault claims.
July 20, 2022 – London Police are ordering an internal review into their investigation into the alleged 2018 sexual assault. Chief Steve Williams said in a statement that his department’s review will determine whether there are « avenues for further investigation ». He adds that the initial investigation, which ended without charge, was « long and detailed ».
July 21, 2022 — Trudeau says there needs to be a « real reckoning » at Hockey Canada. Speaking to reporters in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, Trudeau added that the federation « must do a lot » to regain the trust of Canadians.
July 22, 2022 — Hockey Canada announces that members of its 2003 Junior Men’s World Championship team are being investigated for gang sexual assault. Hockey Canada says it contacted Halifax Regional Police about the allegations because Halifax was the co-host city of the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championship.
July 22, 2022 – London Police Chief Steve Williams has announced his force is reopening its investigation into the alleged 2018 sexual assault.
July 25, 2022 — Players of Canada’s Olympic and World Women’s Hockey Championship teams issue a joint statement demanding a full investigation into the 2018 and 2003 allegations. The statement says Hockey Canada has a lot to do to address the « toxic behavior » in sport. The statement comes after Hockey Canada announced an « action plan » which includes, among other measures, the establishment by the end of September of a centralized abuse complaint tracking and reporting system. The women say they’re “encouraged” by the action plan, but say it’s a first step in tackling toxic behavior in hockey.
July 26, 2022 — Another round of parliamentary hearings into Hockey Canada’s response to the 2018 allegation begins in Ottawa. Michel Ruest, Sport Canada’s senior director, says the federal organization became aware of an alleged sexual assault involving members of Team Canada’s world junior hockey team in late June 2018, but did not did not follow up with Hockey Canada at the time. Former NHL player and victims’ rights advocate Sheldon Kennedy is calling for the resignation of Smith, his management team and the organization’s board of directors.
July 27, 2022 — Hockey Canada chief financial officer Brian Cairo says the organization used its National Equity Fund to pay out $7.6 million in nine settlements related to assault and abuse claims sex since 1989, including $6.8 million linked to serial abuser Graham James. The figure does not include the undisclosed amount from the 2018 settlement. Smith is being questioned for a second time by MPs and is resisting calls for his resignation from a bipartisan selection of politicians. Smith tells reporters the world junior championship will begin as scheduled Aug. 9 in Edmonton.
August 2, 2022 — Counsel for the plaintiff in the 2018 lawsuit says his client passed a polygraph test, which was provided to London police, the Hockey Canada review team and NHL investigators . The International Ice Hockey Federation said in a statement to The Canadian Press that it had launched an investigation into Hockey Canada’s actions, including the reopened investigation.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 22, 2022.
The Canadian Press