Since May, Hockey Canada has been embroiled in a scandal after it was revealed by TSN that the organization settled a lawsuit with a woman who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by eight players in 2018, including members of the U20 men’s junior team.
In the lawsuit, the victim claims that she went back to the hotel with one of the players in the early morning hours of June 19, following a gala honoring the U20 men’s junior team for winning the gold medal several months earlier.
The woman alleged she and the player, identified as John Doe 1, engaged in sexual acts before he invited the other seven defendants into the room “without the knowledge or consent of the Plaintiff.”
At that point, the victim alleged that the rest of the defendants engaged in more sexual acts with her, even though she was too intoxicated to provide consent. She also claimed that the players pressured her not to report the incident to the police.
More recently, The Globe and Mail reported that Hockey Canada has used membership fees to set up a second fund to deal with sexual assault claims.
Since the lawsuit was reported, there has been massive fallout for Hockey Canada. There has been pressure from the public and politicians for a massive leadership change at the top of the organization. Despite that, Hockey Canada chairwoman Andrea Skinner defended CEO Scott Smith and the rest of the leadership team in a hearing before the Canadian Heritage Committee on Oct. 4.
“Our board frankly does not share the view that senior leadership should be replaced on the basis of what we consider to be substantial misinformation and unduly cynical attacks,” Skinner said, according to The Athletic. “Hockey Canada has an excellent reputation.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also been vocal in his criticism of the organization. He spoke to reporters on Wednesday and gave a strong condemnation of Hockey Canada.
“It boggles the mind that Hockey Canada is continuing to dig in its heels,” Trudeau told reporters. “Parents across the country are losing faith or have lost faith in Hockey Canada. Certainly, politicians here in Ottawa have lost faith in Hockey Canada.”
Between the lawsuit and Hockey Canada’s handling of the situation, the organization has lost some of its biggest sponsors. Tim Horton’s, Canadian Tire, Scotiabank, and Chevrolet Canada have all pulled their support in the wake of the scandal. Canadian Tire released a statement saying it could not be associated with Hockey Canada if it refused to change.
“After careful consideration, Canadian Tire Corporation has made the decision to end its partnership with Hockey Canada,” the retail giant announced Thursday. “In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together.”
The Canadian government, as well as the NHL, are still investigating Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault claims.