Hockey Canada Scandal Explained: Organization Loses Sponsors Over Dealing With Sexual Assault Allegations

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Since May, Hockey Canada has been embroiled in a scandal after TSN revealed the organization had settled a lawsuit with a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by eight players in 2018, including members of the junior men’s U20 team.

In the lawsuit, the victim claims he returned to the hotel with one of the players in the early morning hours of June 19, following a gala honoring the junior men’s U20 team for winning the medal gold several months earlier.

The woman alleged that 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 plaintiff’s knowledge or consent’ .

At that time, the victim alleged that the other defendants were engaging in further sexual acts with her, even though she was too drunk to 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 used membership fees to create a second fund to handle sexual assault claims.

Since the lawsuit was reported, there have been massive fallouts for Hockey Canada. There has been pressure from the public and politicians for a massive leadership change at the top of the organization. Despite this, Hockey Canada President Andrea Skinner defended CEO Scott Smith and the rest of the management team during a hearing before the Canadian Heritage Committee on October 4.

“Our board frankly does not share the view that senior management should be replaced based on 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 voiced his criticism of the organization. He spoke to reporters on Wednesday and strongly condemned Hockey Canada.

“It’s amazing that Hockey Canada continues to be stubborn,” Trudeau told reporters. “Parents across the country are losing or have lost faith in Hockey Canada. Certainly the politicians here in Ottawa have lost faith in Hockey Canada.”

Between the lawsuit and Hockey Canada’s handling of the situation, the organization lost some of its biggest sponsors. Tim Horton’s, Canadian Tire, Scotiabank and Chevrolet Canada all withdrew their support following 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 significant change and we can no longer move forward with confidence.”

The Canadian government, as well as the NHL, are still investigating Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault complaints.

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