‘Reasonable grounds’ exist that 2018 Hockey Canada sex assault occurred, police allege

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Investigators with police in London, Ont., say they have “reasonable grounds” to believe that five players from the 2018 world junior team sexually assaulted a woman after a Hockey Canada gala, newly unsealed court documents reveal.

The records include a 94-page information to obtain (ITO) order filed in Ontario provincial court on Oct. 17, 2022. While redacted in parts, the ITO offers the most detail yet from police about the state of their investigation, reopened earlier this year, into the June 19, 2018, alleged sexual assault of a women identified only by the initials E.M.

“I believe, on reasonable grounds, given the totality of the circumstances that I will described below, that (E.M.) was sexually assaulted. Her perceptions of the evening were one in which she understood and initially (specific sexual act(s)) with (Player #1). The (specific sexual act(s)) that occurred after that was non-consensual,” wrote Sgt. David Younan.

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“I believe, when taking a global view of the evidence, (E.M.) subjectively believed that she had no alternative but to engage in the (specific sexual act(s)). Further, I believe that each of the suspects knew or ought to have known that (E.M.) had not consented to the (specific sexual act(s)) in which each engaged.”

Hockey Canada’s handling of the alleged sexual assault and its settlement of a civil case brought by E.M., which was revealed by TSN in May, has sparked intense scrutiny and condemnation from political leaders of the sport’s national governing body. After calls for executive change were resisted, its CEO and entire board of directors departed this fall.

A new board was elected over the weekend.

The court documents, which were first reported on by the Globe and Mail on Sunday following a motion by that outlet to unseal the records, were obtained by Global News on Monday. They reveal that London police have asked a judge to approve a series of investigative measures, like search warrants and production orders, related to their investigation of the alleged sexual assault.

The application includes interviews with several players, but identities of the players alleged to have been involved in the reported sexual assault have been redacted, as have descriptions of alleged sexual acts described in interviews of the players and E.M. with police.

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An ITO is a sworn affidavit made by an investigator seeking approval from a judge for a warrant.

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Information laid out in an ITO has not been tested in a criminal trial, and does not represent a determination of guilt or innocence by a jury or judge.

No criminal charges have been laid in the alleged sexual assault.

What does the document allege happened that night?

According to the information laid out by police, E.M. met an individual identified as “Player #1” and other members of his team on the evening of June 18, 2018, at a location identified as Jack’s bar in London, Ont.

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E.M. spent the majority of the time at the bar with the player and his friends. Police allege E.M. at one point was “encircled” by the men, and was passed “back-and-forth” between them to dance with them.

Police said E.M. was drinking alcoholic beverages, and described herself as being intoxicated.

According to the ITO, the group kept purchasing drinks for E.M., who police said felt the group wanted her to drink more alcohol. E.M. described in an interview with police meeting an older man who poured a shot in her mouth and told her to “take care” of Player #1, police said in the ITO.

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Player #1 and E.M. left Jack’s bar and went to the Delta Armouries Hotel in London. It was in the early morning hours of June 19 that police said E.M. and Player #1 engaged in “consensual” sexual acts, the details of which were redacted in the ITO.

“After finishing, Player #1 was seen using his cellular telephone. In an interview with police, Player #1 admitted to letting his teammates know he was in his hotel room with a woman. Other members of his team pointed to Player #1 as the person who alerted them to come to his room,” according to the ITO.

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“Later, multiple members of the hockey team entered the hotel room.”

Police identified a man referred to as Player #2 as allegedly committing sexual acts with E.M. without speaking to her. Three other players, identified as Player #3, Player #12 and Player #4, had E.M. perform sexual acts, police alleged in the court filing.

“During her time in the hotel room, E.M. was spit on,” police alleged in the report, further alleging she had told them several players slapped her buttocks while she was performing sexual acts on Player #1.

Police said in the court filing it caused her pain to the point she had asked them to stop.

Police said E.M. tried to leave on “multiple occasions” but that she felt she was unable to leave; the room was full and she could not see a way out, police described her as saying in an interview.

“She described crying. She explained that she needed to retreat to the bathroom to get away on multiple occasions. She was unable to say ‘no,’” police said.

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Further on in the court filing, police said: “E.M. recalled golf clubs in the room. E.M. heard players [redacted information on specific sex acts]. E.M. said no to this activity and laughed because she did not know what else to do. E.M. recalled the golf clubs being in the hotel the entire time, and feared that at any moment, they could be used.”
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During the course of the evening, police say two short videos were recorded by Player #1, both showing E.M.’s face. According to the ITO, the first, six-second-long video depicts E.M. saying she is “okay with this.”

In the second, 12-second-long video — believed by E.M. to have been recorded at the end of the night, after the other players had left — a male voice believed to be Player #1 is heard off-camera saying, “Say it,” followed by E.M. replying and repeating “It was all consensual,” according to the court document.

After the male asks “what else,” E.M. says, “You are so paranoid, holy. I enjoyed it, it was fine, it was all consensual. I am so sober, that’s why I can’t do this right now,” according to the ITO.

The court filing goes on to say E.M. believes the videos were taken “to protect her from going to the police.”

“Further, the videos were created at the end of the night, after the sexual activity was largely concluded,” police said. “Consent needs to be provided during the activity, not before or after.

“E.M. herself recalled thinking, ‘I wished you had asked me before if things were okay.'”

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E.M. requested an Uber to take her home after leaving the hotel, police said. According to the ITO, the driver observed her in an “upset state,” and attempted to console her until he dropped her off at home.

His identity is unknown, and police are seeking to interview him.

At approximately 5 a.m. eastern time that morning, E.M. was “found by her mother, C.M, in the shower, with the water running, seated clasping her knees and rocking back and forth,” the ITO alleged.

“E.M. told C.M. she thought it was just going to be ‘him’ (referring to Player #1) but then more guys entered the hotel room and asked her to do ‘horrific things.'”

Based on the information received in interviews, police described why they believe “reasonable grounds” exist that the five players sexually assaulted E.M.

“This includes, but is not limited to, the size of the room, the amount of people within it, their size and stature, the presence of the golf clubs, her nudity, state of intoxication, and the other sexual acts that E.M. was subjected to while inside the hotel,” the ITO states.

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At issue is the question of consent and whether E.M. provided it to all the players for specific sexual acts. In the filing, police note that consent “cannot be inferred through ‘silence, passivity or ambiguous conduct.'”

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“A belief that gave broad advanced consent to sexual activity of an undefined scope will afford the accused no defence, as that belief is premised on a mistake of law, not fact,” the investigator said in the ITO.

“It is an error of law to assume E.M. had implicitly given her consent to ‘any and all sexual activity’ until and unless she says no,” police added.

The purpose of the ITO, police said, was to get a warrant to enter the hotel room to measure the size of it, as well as a search warrant for thumb drives police say contain a group chat among team members.

Police are also seeking production orders for material gathered by a law firm hired by Hockey Canada that conducted a 2018 investigation into the matter.

Officers have also filed a production order to Uber in an effort to identify the driver who E.M. said brought her home and attempted to console her.

Investigation reopened amid Hockey Canada fallout

The alleged sexual assault — and Hockey Canada’s response to it — made national headlines in May, after TSN revealed the sports body had quietly settled a legal case filed by E.M. for an undisclosed amount.

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Hockey Canada executives then revealed to the House of Commons standing committee on Canadian heritage in June that players from the 2018 world junior team were not required to co-operate with the police investigation or an external probe by Henein Hutchison LLP.

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In July, days after Hockey Canada announced it was reopening its own investigation, London police said it was reviewing its own case to determine “additional investigative avenues” that may exist.

Two days later, police reopened the investigation.

Hockey Canada, meanwhile, has faced a reckoning over its overall handling of sexual assault cases involving players. The organization revealed it maintained a reserve fund that drew from membership fees that was used in part to settle sexual misconduct cases. Hockey Canada says the fund will no longer be used for that purpose.

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Top sponsors including Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Scotiabank and Esso pulled their sponsorships not only for the recent world juniors but the entire 2022-23 season, demanding change within the top ranks of the organization.

After months of pressure, the entire board of directors as well as president and CEO Scott Smith resigned in October.

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