Police in London, Ont., reviewing investigation of sexual assault claims after 2018 Hockey Canada event

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Hockey Canada is at the centre of a controversy over how it handled sex assault allegations against some members of the 2018 gold-medal-winning world junior team. On Wednesday, London, Ont., police said they're conducting an internal review of how they investigated the case. (Albert Leung/CBC - image credit)
Hockey Canada is at the centre of a controversy over how it handled sex assault allegations against some members of the 2018 gold-medal-winning world junior team. On Wednesday, London, Ont., police said they're conducting an internal review of how they investigated the case. (Albert Leung/CBC - image credit)

The London Police Service in Ontario says it's re-examining allegations of sexual assault involving some members of the 2018 world junior hockey team who attended a Hockey Canada gala, a case it initially closed without pressing charges.

Police Chief Steve Williams said Wednesday that due to significant public interest, he is directing an internal review to determine whether anything was missed.

The announcement comes about a week after Hockey Canada offered an apology and a series of announcements in an open letter. The organization said it's reopening its own investigation, through a third party, into the allegations by a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted in a room at the Delta Armouries hotel in London by some members of the gold-medal-winning team.

Williams said the police investigation lasted eight months, wrapping up in February 2019.

"To ensure due diligence, given the serious nature of this allegation, I have directed that an internal review of the investigation be conducted to determine what, if any, additional investigative avenues may exist," the chief said in a statement.

The woman who made the assault allegations is now 24 years old. She was seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the unnamed players.

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Wikipedia Commons

Hockey Canada quietly settled the case out of court in June and details of the settlement have not been made public.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Since the revelation of the settlement, Hockey Canada has lost its major sponsors and has had its government funding frozen.

At the time, Hockey Canada had hired Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison LLP to conduct its investigation. During a parliamentary standing committee meeting, Hockey Canada president Scott Smith said players were "strongly encouraged" to participate in the investigation, but it was not mandated.

Earlier this week, it was uncovered in court documents that the sport's governing body had a legal fund set aside for uninsured liabilities, including cases of sexual assault. That's resulted in further criticism, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called the fund "unacceptable." Since then, Hockey Canada has said it will no longer use the fund, which is maintained by membership fees, to settle sexual assault claims.

In its announcements this week about reopening the third-party investigation, Hockey Canada said it will make it mandatory for players to participate in it.

Williams said London police will start their review immediately, adding there is no timeline for its completion.

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