Justin Trudeau rips Hockey Canada brass over sexual assault slush fund

·2 min read

Hot on the heels of some shocking developments surrounding the sexual abuse claims that have rocked Hockey Canada this summer, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ripped the nation’s governing hockey body.

"I think right now, it’s hard for anyone to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada," Trudeau said when asked about the scandal while conducting a press conference in B.C. on Tuesday. "What we’re learning today is absolutely unacceptable.

"A few years ago, I had my son in hockey. And when I think about the culture that is apparently permeating the highest orders of that organization, I can understand why so many Canadians who take such pride in our national winter sport are absolutely disgusted by what’s going on."

It was reported this week that Hockey Canada set aside player registration funds to settle claims of abuse and sexual assault.
It was reported this week that Hockey Canada set aside player registration funds to settle claims of abuse and sexual assault.

"Certainly, as a government, we will continue to be unequivocal in our condemnation of what we’re learning, and mostly in our demands that things change significantly," Trudeau added.

Back in May, news broke that Hockey Canada quietly settled a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges she was assaulted by eight unnamed players, including several members of the country’s 2018 world junior team, following a gala in London, Ontario.

Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith said the organization settled a $3.55-million lawsuit with the accuser in May for an undisclosed amount.

In a story that seemingly gets darker by the day, on Tuesday the Globe and Mail detailed how Hockey Canada used player registration fees to create and build a multimillion-dollar fund to cover abuse and sexual assault claims with "minimal outside scrutiny."

Hockey Canada bosses Smith and Tom Renney testified before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage about the allegations when the Canadian government froze millions of dollars in federal funding until the organization signs up with a new federal agency that has the power to independently receive and investigate abuse complaints and issue sanctions for inappropriate behavior.

On top of that, Tim Hortons joined a growing list of sponsors, including Scotiabank, Canadian Tire, Telus and Imperial Oil, to pull their financial support in the wake of Hockey Canada’s handling of the alleged 2018 sexual assault.

The players were not identified in court documents. St. Louis Blues forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, who were members of the 2018 world junior team, released separate statements on social media Tuesday saying they had no involvement in the alleged incident. The agency representing Carter Hart, Jake Bean, Kale Clague, Colton Point, and Taylor Raddysh released a statement denying any involvement in the incident on behalf of the players.

Four other players from that Canadian championship team — Cale Makar, Victor Mete, Conor Timmins, Sam Steel and Jonah Gadjovich — have also publicly stated they weren’t involved.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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