Police in London, Ont., say they have grounds to believe a woman was sexually assaulted by five players on Canada’s 2018 junior men’s hockey team.
They’re seeking warrants to search a hotel room and the offices of law firms conducting investigations into the alleged assault, as well as a warrant to retrieve thumb drives containing text messages between players on the team.
In legal documents filed at the Ontario court of justice and obtained by The Canadian Press, lead investigator Sgt. David Younan wrote that “given the totality of circumstances” the woman identified as E.M. “was sexually assaulted.”
Younan stated each of the suspects knew or ought to have known that E.M. had not consented to the sex acts.
London police didn’t proceed with charges after the incident was first reported to them in 2018, but the case was reopened in 2022.
The alleged gang rape occurred the night of a Hockey Canada gala June 18, 2018. Canada had won the gold medal at the world junior hockey championship in January in Buffalo.
A firestorm of criticism descended upon Hockey Canada in May when TSN reported the national governing body of hockey had settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount with E.M., who had sought $3.55 million.
The revelation that Hockey Canada maintained a fund drawing on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims, fuelled the furor.
Sponsors withdrew, the national sports minister stripped Hockey Canada of federal funding and the governing body’s leaders were called onto the carpet in Ottawa by parliamentary committees. Hockey Canada’s president and CEO Scott Smith resigned.
The repercussions continued throughout the summer and into the fall with the entire board replaced by new one Saturday.
Police are also asking Uber to find the driver who transported E.M. home after the alleged sexual assault.
While the heavily redacted application states its reasons for a case against the players, no charges have been laid and police opinions have not been tested in court.
The application was compiled based on interviews with E.M. and a dozen players from the Canadian junior team.
E.M. went with a friend to a downtown London bar that night to meet other friends. She said she drank two coolers before arriving at the bar. She continued drinking and began dancing with a player from the team and his friends.
They bought her drinks, with an older man also buying her a drink and telling her to “take care of” the player, who he was praising. The man was identified by police as someone who “commonly attends these functions as part of his occupation.”
E.M. told police the player described his name as different from the name his friends were calling him. She also said she was so intoxicated she fell down near the bar’s washroom.
She described herself and the player as intoxicated when they returned to the hotel. After they had sex, E.M. thought she observed the player texting and then two men arrived at their room.
After going to the washroom, she says she returned to find “seven or eight” men in the room. The player confirmed in police interviews he texted teammates to come to his room and said E.M. “seemed fine with the guys in the room, in fact, she appeared kind of flirty.”
E.M. described sex acts she felt coerced into performing, and said the players laughed and joked at her expense. She said they slapped her buttocks so hard it hurt.
When she cried in the washroom and got dressed to leave, they convinced her to stay. When E.M. did leave the room, she briefly returned to look for a ring she’d lost.
The following morning, her mother reported the incident to the London police. Her husband contacted Hockey Canada and provided a picture of the player who accompanied E.M. to the hotel that night.
Police say the player recorded two short videos of E.M. that night in the hotel room in which he asks her consent for what was happening.
Police say they also have an Instagram conversation between E.M. and the player, in which the player asks her if she had gone to the police and states “you need to talk to your mother right now and straighten things out with the police before this goes to far. This is a serious matter that she is misrepresenting and could have significant implications for a lot of people including you.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2022.