Woman says she fully cooperated with alleged sexual assault investigation involving World Junior hockey players

The whistleblower at the center of an alleged group sexual assault that has rocked Canada’s sports world says she has cooperated fully at all times with a police investigation into her case, despite Hockey Canada originally saying she did not.

The woman filed a $3.5 million lawsuit in April that said in 2018, eight hockey players, including members of Canada’s junior world team, sexually assaulted, humiliated and degraded her in a hotel room in London, Ontario.

The lawsuit brief, which has not been proven in court, says the hockey players brought golf clubs into the hotel room to further intimidate her, ordered the woman to shower after the sexual assault, and told her to said she was sober while they were recording a video. consent video

As the Globe and Mail first reported on Tuesday, the whistleblower’s attorney, Robert Talach, released a statement saying his client made it clear to police in June 2018 that he wanted criminal charges filed.

“This woman was fully engaged and cooperative with all legal and formal investigations surrounding these events,” Talach wrote in a statement shared with CBC News.

Hockey Canada released a statement in May that initially described the whistleblower as not cooperating with the London police investigation.

“The person who brought the allegations chose not to speak to police or Hockey Canada’s independent investigator and also chose not to identify the players involved,” read the statement that followed TSN’s report on the case. “It was his right and we fully respect his wishes.”

One month later, Hockey Canada corrected that statement and said: “We later learned through his lawyer that he did, in fact, file a complaint with the police.” The organization added a correction to the original post on Tuesday after media reports on the issue.

Lie Detector Test Results Shared With Police

Talach said he believes Hockey Canada made an “honest mistake” but the statement was continually reported in the media “over and over” and needed to be addressed.

“Previous media reports that she did not approach or cooperate with police were inaccurate,” Talach said in the statement.

He provided a number of new details about the case, including that his client spoke to a detective within days of the alleged sexual assault and had a physical at a hospital.

His client also gave his clothes to police for examination and met with officers on two other occasions that summer, Talach said. After seven months, he was told the investigation was closed and no charges would be filed.

After an eruption of public outrage, The London Police Chief announced last month that it would conduct an internal review to “determine what, if any, additional avenues of investigation exist.”

Talach said his law firm set up a polygraph test for the woman and she passed. The results have since been provided to police and investigators from Hockey Canada and the NHL, which launched its own investigation in May.

CLOCK | Hockey Canada has paid out 21 sexual misconduct settlements since 1989

Hockey Canada has paid out 21 sexual misconduct settlements since 1989

Hockey Canada officials revealed that the organization has paid nearly $9 million in settlements since 1989 to 21 people alleging sexual misconduct.

The whistleblower gave a statement to the Hockey Canada investigator

Meanwhile, the well-known criminal defense law firm retained by Hockey Canada to investigate, Henein Hutchison, told a parliamentary committee last week that closed its investigation because the whistleblower did not want to participate.

“I needed his version of the facts to advance my investigation,” Danielle Robitaille, a partner at the firm and principal investigator, told parliamentarians.

Robitaille said the whistleblower, along with nine hockey players, said they would not participate in the law firm’s investigation until the police investigation is complete.

“Once the criminal process was over, I focused my efforts on speaking with the complainant’s attorney and trying to facilitate obtaining that statement so that I would be equipped to move forward with my investigation,” she said.

“After 18 months of these efforts without reaching the place I expected, I closed the investigation without prejudice to reopening it at a later date.”

Robitaille said he came to the conclusion that he shouldn’t interview the rest of the players without speaking to the whistleblower first.

Hockey Canada’s investigation was reopened last month amid intense public scrutiny and it said it learned the woman would now make a statement. Sport Canada froze its funding and several high-profile sponsors, including Scotiabank, dropped their sponsorship deals.

The woman participated in the investigation by providing a “full written statement” to Hockey Canada and the NHL on July 21, according to Talach.

Talach confirmed that his client will not sit down for an interview with Hockey Canada or NHL investigators because he already provided an eight-page statement, five pages of photos and 4.5 pages of text messages.

“We ask that their privacy continue to be respected and we thank the Canadian public for their concern,” Talach said in a statement.

Lawyer Danielle Robitaille, a partner at Henein Hutchison LLP, told a parliamentary committee in July that she closed her firm’s investigation in September 2020 “without prejudice to reopening it later” because the whistleblower refused to give her version of what happened. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Law expert says whistleblower may have feared ‘incredulous treatment’

Julie Macfarlane, a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Windsor, said the whistleblower’s involvement in the hockey organization’s investigations would lend credibility to the process.

She said Hockey Canada pays Henein Hutchison and is known for her criminal defense work. Robitaille was co-counsel on the Jian Ghomeshi trial in 2014in which the firm participated in a cross-examination that shredded the statements of the complainants on the witness stand, Macfarlane said.

“The whistleblower here could reasonably assume that she would be subjected to the same harsh and incredulous treatment as this investigation,” Macfarlane said.

Listening to Hockey Canada and Henein Hutchison testify in a parliamentary committee last week, Macfarlane said, there was a “clear implication that somehow” the whistleblower “was at fault for not cooperating.”

“Which, given the dismissive and unsympathetic treatment he has received from both the police and Hockey Canada, seems designed only to protect Hockey Canada once again at his expense,” Macfarlane said.

The plaintiff has signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) as part of her agreement that restricts what she can say publicly about the case. Prince Edward Island became the first province in Canada this year to limit NDA use in sexual misconduct cases to prevent whistleblowers from being silenced.

Macfarlane is a co-founder of the Can’t Buy My Silence campaign to end non-disclosure. She said the plaintiff may be asked to sign another if she was interviewed by Hockey Canada or the NHL.

Robitaille told MPs that he had not seen a copy of the NDA that the plaintiff signed as part of her settlement agreement. Hockey Canada’s board of directors has agreed to pay the claimant up to $3.5 million, the organization told MPs last week.

Do you have a story or news tip about the Hockey Canada scandal? Email ashley.burke@cbc.ca

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