Woman reaches settlement with Hockey Canada, CHL after alleged sexual assault

·4-min read
Eight members of the 2018 Men's World Junior hockey team are alleged to have sexual assaulted a woman in London in June 2018. (Getty Images)
Several members of the 2018 Men's World Junior hockey team are alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman in London, Ont., in June 2018. (Getty Images)

Warning: This article contains references of sexual assault

A woman alleging she was sexually assaulted by eight CHL players, including members of the men’s 2018 Canadian World Junior hockey team, has dropped her lawsuit against the players, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League after reaching a settlement, as reported by TSN’s Rick Westhead.

The woman claimed she was assaulted while intoxicated in a London, Ont., hotel room in June 2018.

The eight CHL players named as defendants in the lawsuit were only identified as John Does 1-8 in an 18-page statement filed by the plaintiff in Ontario Superior Court on April 20.

The plaintiff, identified only as “E.M.” in court records, was asking for $3.55 million in damages. Details of the settlement were not disclosed and the plaintiff’s lawyer, Robert Talach, refused to say whether his client signed a non-disclosure agreement, according to Westhead.

“The plaintiff is satisfied with the outcome and relieved that this difficult matter has been concluded,” Talach told TSN. “She has nothing further to add and, consistent with her expressed wishes and behaviour throughout, requests that her privacy and desire not to be identified continues to be respected.”

The lawsuit alleges that the assaults took place on June 19, 2018, during a Hockey Canada event in London, where the 2018 World Juniors team was being honoured for winning the gold medal in that year’s tournament.

The defendants allegedly met the woman at a bar following the event at 11:00 p.m. ET and bought her drinks throughout the night, separating her from her friends as she grew intoxicated as the evening progressed.

The plaintiff, now 24 years old, allegedly followed John Doe 1 to his hotel room at the Delta London Armouries Hotel, where they engaged in sexual acts. According to the lawsuit, John Doe 1 then invited the remainder of the defendants into the room without the knowledge or consent of the woman.

The players then allegedly performed numerous sexual acts on the plaintiff and prevented her from leaving the room, Westhead reports. The woman alleges that she was too intoxicated to provide proper consent.

“Throughout the assaults, the plaintiff experienced an ongoing apprehension of imminent physical harm of a sexual nature,” the lawsuit said. “The actions of the John Doe defendants caused terror and fear in the plaintiff’s mind. The John Doe defendants had complete control over the plaintiff and had isolated her from others. The number of men and the fact that they had brought golf clubs to the room further intimidated the plaintiff. As a result, the plaintiff acquiesced to their repeated sexual acts and direction to engage, but this in no way constituted valid consent under law by the plaintiff.”

The woman also alleges that the defendants pressured her not to report them to the authorities and not to cooperate with any investigation into the matter.

The lawsuit alleges that Hockey Canada was promptly made aware of the assaults but failed to investigate the accusations and hold the players accountable.

A spokesperson for Hockey Canada, Esther Madziya, told TSN that the organization did report the allegations to the London police.

“Hockey Canada is deeply troubled by the very serious allegations of sexual assault regarding members of the 2017-18 National Junior Hockey Team,” Madziya said in a statement. “As soon as Hockey Canada became aware of this matter in 2018, we contacted local police authorities to inform them. The same day, we also retained Henein Hutchison LLP, a firm with extensive experience in this area, to undertake a thorough independent internal investigation and make recommendations on areas for improvement which we have been implementing and will continue to pursue.

“The person bringing the allegations forward chose not to speak with either police or with Hockey Canada’s independent investigator and also chose not to identify the players involved. This was her right, and we fully respect her wishes. We have settled this matter and as part of that settlement, we will not be commenting further.”

The NHL issued a statement on Thursday addressing the lawsuit and promised to take action if appropriate.

“Two days ago, the National Hockey League was advised of a lawsuit involving sexual allegations filed against eight unnamed members of the 2018 Canadian World Junior hockey team. We were subsequently provided with the Statement of Claim, containing allegations of behaviour that is both abhorrent and reprehensible. We will endeavour 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. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Fourteen of the 22 members of that 2018 World Juniors team are currently in the NHL.

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