Hockey Canada officials asked to testify at hearing on sexual assault lawsuit

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage voted in a private session Monday to ask Hockey Canada officials to appear at a hearing next week about a sexual assault lawsuit the organization settled earlier this year, MP Peter Julian confirmed to The Athletic,

According to Julian, the officials who will be asked to testify on June 20 before the committee on the lawsuit, in which a young woman said that eight Canadian Hockey League Players sexually assaulted her, are President Scott Smith, outgoing Chief Executive Officer Tom Renney, former director of risk management Glen McCurdie and David Andrews, chair of the Hockey Canada Foundation. Smith is set to assume CEO duties after Renney retires, which is slated for July 1.

TSN first reported the news Monday evening and broke the news of the lawsuit, which was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice back in April and resolved via settlement last month.

In her lawsuit, the woman said in her original statement of claim that eight players, who are not named but described as “players for, and members of the CHL and Hockey Canada, including but not limited to members of the Canada U20 Men’s Junior Hockey Team” sexually assaulted her in a hotel room while they were in town for a Hockey Canada event in London, Ontario in June 2018.

Hockey Canada was named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, in which the woman claimed that the organization “ignored or failed to reasonably address institutionalized and systemic abuse within its organization” and “condoned a culture and environment that glorified the degradation and exploitation of young women,” among other claims.

Hockey Canada, in a statement to TSN, said the organization contacted local police once it was alerted to the authorities and retained a firm to conduct an internal investigation. The organization has declined to comment further, citing the settlement.

MP Peter Julian said that committee members will be on a fact-finding mission to determine how Hockey Canada, which receives public funding, handled the matter.

“I think Canadians, they want to have answers on how this happened. How Hockey Canada is endeavoring to make sure this never happens again,” Julian told The Athletic when reached by phone on Monday night.

Canada’s Minister for Sport Pascale St-Onge is also slated to attend the hearings. Onge has been outspoken since news of the lawsuit surfaced, calling for a financial audit of Hockey Canada to establish whether any taxpayer money was used to resolve the lawsuit.

MP Julian said that while the committee has not had any robust discussions yet about which documents might be requested as part of this probe, members will have the chance to question Hockey Canada executives in the June 20 hearing to determine appropriate next steps.

Julian also added that there is a possibility that additional witnesses could be called to appear in future hearings.

“These are serious facts and we want to know the facts of how Hockey Canada actually handled it,” Julian said of next week’s hearing, which will be televised and streamed online for the public to view.

Last month, the National Hockey League announced it was investigating the underlying facts of the lawsuit, calling the alleged behavior “both abhorrent and reprehensible.”

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

(Photo: Jana Chytilova / Freestyle Photography / Getty Images)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.