Woman who filed lawsuit against Hockey Canada to participate in reopened investigation

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is conducting an investigation into Hockey Canada's handling of allegations of sexual assault. (Paul D. Grant)

Editor's Note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers.

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The woman who says she was sexually assaulted in June 2018 by members of the Canadian world junior team intends to participate in Hockey Canada's reopened investigation, her attorney told Sportsnet on Thursday.

Rob Talach said via email that his client "will be participating in the Hockey Canada investigation." He added his client "will not be commenting to media at this time due to the reopened investigation." His client did not previously participate in investigations led by Hockey Canada's law firm or police.

On Thursday, after facing widespread backlash from the public and the withdrawal of several corporate sponsors, Hockey Canada issued a statement saying it is reopening its investigation into the allegations.

In April, a woman filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and eight unnamed CHL players, including some who represented Canada at the world juniors, stating she was sexually assaulted in a London, Ont., hotel room after a Hockey Canada gala event in June 2018.

Hockey Canada will require all players on that roster to participate in the reopened investigation, which will continue to be led by an independent third party. Per Thursday’s announcement, players who do not cooperate will be banned from all Hockey Canada activities and programs.

“We have heard from Canadians, players, their families, fans, sponsors and those impacted by what occurred in 2018. We know you are angry and disappointed in Hockey Canada – rightfully so,” read the statement, titled An Open Letter to Canadians. “We know we have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 National Junior Team, or to end the culture of toxic behaviour within our game.

“For that we unreservedly apologize.”

Hockey Canada also said they “acknowledge the courage of the young woman involved and respect her decision to participate with the investigation in the manner she chooses.”

The woman, identified in the statement of claim from April 20 as "E.M.," chose not to participate in investigations opened in 2018 by London Police and by Henein Hutchison LLP, the third-party law firm hired by Hockey Canada in June 2018, after the alleged incident occurred. The woman wishes to remain anonymous and did not name the alleged perpetrators, who are referred to as John Does 1-8 in the official statement of claim. The lawsuit was settled in May. The case has not been heard in a court of law.

When contacted by Sportsnet, the NHL, which is also conducting an investigation into the matter, declined comment other than to say, "the NHL intends to continue pursuing and conducting our investigation." It is unclear whether the woman will participate or has participated in the NHL's investigation.

--with files from Sportsnet's Emily Sadler

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