The Montreal Canadiens’ polarizing decision to draft defenceman Logan Mailloux, who was convicted of sexual misconduct last year, is being criticized by advocates and elected officials alike across Quebec.
Mailloux, a Belle River, Ont., native was playing with SK Lejon in Sweden during the 2020-21 season when he took and shared a non-consensual picture of himself and an 18-year-old girl engaging in a sexual act. He was convicted and fined under Swedish law last December.
Mailloux was 17 at the time of the incident and since admitted to sharing the photo with his hockey teammates to impress them.
The now 18-year-old was sentenced to pay fines for sharing a “shocking photograph infringing on privacy” and defamation.
In Canada, the non-consensual publication of an intimate image is, in serious cases, an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment of up to five years.
News of the charges recently surfaced and Mailloux put out a statement on Twitter last week asking NHL teams to not select him in this year’s draft because he had not shown “strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege.”
Still, this didn’t stop Habs’ general manager Marc Bergevin from using his first pick in the 2021 NHL entry draft to select him late Friday.
On Saturday, Mailloux told reporters in a virtual press conference that he “deeply regrets” taking the photo and sharing it without consent.
He said he has apologized to the young woman and her family and has been in therapy for months to better himself and to fully understand the impact his act had and will have on the victim for the rest of her life.
After the Canadiens selected the six-foot-three, 213-pound defenceman 31st overall, the team immediately issued a statement defending the move.
It said it did not minimize “the severity of Logan’s actions” and is committed to “accompany Logan on his journey by providing him with the tools to mature and the necessary support to guide him in his development.”
“I know he’s been remorseful,” Bergevin told reporters after the draft. “He’s a young man who made a serious mistake.”
Ocampo-Picard said there’s a disconnect between the team’s words and actions. It denounced the act as unacceptable, but then went ahead and accepted it within its organization.
According to her, the team put its own interests before the well-being and safety of women and trivialized sexual violence.
Quebec’s Minister in charge of the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest, said in a tweet she was surprised and disappointed by the draft of Mailloux despite his conviction.
Charest said it “does not at all go the direction of positive culture change.”
Québec solidaire spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois also took to Twitter in reaction on Saturday and said many young boys dream of playing professional hockey, and the team’s draft of someone convicted of a sex crime sends the message that “you can degrade women and still merit a place in our organization.”
Director of the Federation of women’s shelters of Quebec, Manon Monastesse, said the team should demand more than just words from the young player.
Monastesse said Mailloux should suffer direct consequences — such as hours of community service or paying a sum of his future salary to centres that support victims of sexual violence.
Monastesse added that she worries what message this story will send to young boys and girls.
–with files from the Canadiens Press