London, Ont. police reopen criminal probe into alleged sex assault at 2018 Hockey Canada gala

A Hockey Canada logo is seen at an event in Toronto on Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Police in London, Ont., announced Friday that they would reopen a criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault in the city involving members of Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team.

It comes two days after Steve Williams, London’s police chief, announced that an internal review of the force’s initial investigation would be conducted to “determine what, if any, additional investigative avenues may exist.”

The initial investigation, which wrapped up in February 2019 with no charges, was “lengthy and detailed,” he said.

In a statement Friday, Williams revealed the review had found “further investigative opportunities available,” and, as a result, the criminal investigation had been reopened to “allow those opportunities to be explored.”

“As this is now an active criminal investigation, I am unable to speak further to the matter. Appropriate information will be shared once the investigation has concluded,” Williams’ statement read.

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Hockey Canada has been battered by the fallout over its handling of the sexual assault allegations.

In May, news broke that the organization had quietly settled a lawsuit filed by a woman who filed a complaint about being assaulted while intoxicated by eight unnamed players, including members of the world junior team, following a gala event in London on June 18, 2018.

Hockey Canada paid out an undisclosed settlement to the alleged victim in relation to the suit, which also named the Canadian Hockey League and the eight players.

Hockey Canada lost government funding and corporate sponsorship after the allegations went public.

On Friday, Hockey Canada was rocked by even more sexual assault allegations, this time involving members of its 2003 men’s world junior hockey team.

In a statement, the organization said that it learned of the alleged incident after being contacted by TSN seeking comment on the alleged assault.

The national sports body said that following the reporter’s email it immediately contacted Sport Canada as well as Halifax Regional Police about the allegations.

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Halifax was the co-host city of the 2003 world junior hockey championship.

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The standing committee on Canadian Heritage is scheduled to continue its examination of Hockey Canada’s handling of the 2018 allegations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Earlier this week, The Canadian Press reported that a fund maintained by Hockey Canada, drawing on minor hockey membership fees, was being used to pay for uninsured liabilities including sexual abuse claims.

The organization has since confirmed that the fund existed, but said it would no longer be used to pay out claims related to sexual assault allegations.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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