Ottawa: Hockey Canada officials will be summoned to testify before a parliamentary committee, lawmakers agreed Thursday, over accusations that eight players were involved in a gang rape in 2018.
A lawsuit filed by a now 24-year-old woman in April against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the players had been settled without attracting much attention until local reports began circulating in recent days.
According to sports broadcaster TSN, the woman, identified only as “E.M.” in court documents, claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a London, Ontario hotel after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.
She said the assailants were all Canadian Hockey League players, some who played in the World Juniors 2017-2018 and some who went on to the NHL.
“I am shocked and angry to read about the allegations made against the players of the Canadian junior hockey team,” Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge told reporters in Ottawa.
“All Canadians want to know and me too, is whether any public funds were used to cover up this story of gang rape,” she said, vowing an audit of federal funding for Hockey Canada “to make sure that’s not the case.”
She was also critical of Hockey Canada for its apparent lapse in “holding the players accountable” in this case, adding that several are now playing in the National Hockey League.
Hockey Canada told TSN it advised local police of the sexual assault accusations and hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation, which has not been made public.
The NHL tweeted that the accusations detailed in a statement of claim it obtained were “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 well determine what action, if any, would be appropriate,” it said in the statement.