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University of Lethbridge women’s hockey team not focused on $1-million lawsuit against coach

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WATCH ABOVE: As the court process unfolds in a $1-million lawsuit involving the U of L women’s hockey program, head coach Michelle Janus has her sights set on a successful season. Janus is one of three defendants in the suit. She is accused by former players of bullying and harassment. Malika Karim reports – Sep 4, 2018

The head coach of the University of Lethbridge’s women’s hockey team is speaking for the first time since being named in a one-million-dollar lawsuit alleging bullying and harassment, but isn’t talking about the legal action itself.

“Unfortunately, I can’t talk about those [allegations] or the lawsuit,” Michelle Janus said while overseeing the team’s first practice on Monday.

Janus said she doesn’t believe the lawsuit will be a distraction for her current players.

“I think our players are focused, they’re ready, they’re hungry to be back,” Janus said. “From the conversations I’ve had with all of them, they’re pretty excited to be back.”

The on-ice leaders are supporting their coach, including team captain Mattie Apperson. She said this year’s team isn’t worried about what’s happening off the ice.

“I’m really excited about the season,” Apperson said. “We’re just focusing on the season, this year, and getting ready to play all the other teams. It’ll be pretty good.”

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READ MORE: Harassment lawsuit names University of Lethbridge, hockey coach and athletic director

Four former players are claiming bullying and harassment against both Janus and Ken McInnes, the university’s sport and recreation executive director.

The university is also named in the suit.

The claim cites several alleged incidents, including one where players were asked by Janus and McInnes to vote on whether a teammate should be allowed to continue to play on the team because of a suicide attempt. The players claim it was part of a pattern of abuse by Janus.

READ MORE: U of S volleyball coach fired for recruiting player facing sexual assault charges

The former players are claiming physical, psychological and emotional harm, including the loss of self-esteem and desire to play sports, specifically hockey.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Global News has requested an interview with McInnes but he has declined to comment.

The statement of claim filed in court of Queen’s Bench on Aug. 21 states the defendants have 20 days to respond to the allegations.

You can view the statement of claim in its entirety below. WARNING: This legal document contains some coarse and graphic language that some readers may find offensive.

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