Editor's note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be upsetting for some readers. If you or someone you know is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references for survivors and their loved ones can be found here.
Former NHL player Reid Boucher pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct against a minor in a Washtenaw County Trial Court on Dec. 13 after originally being charged with first-degree.
Boucher is expected to be sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), meaning he may not face jail time or have the charge appear on his record despite the charge normally carrying a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and the requirement to register as a sex offender, according to the Detroit Free Press -- the first outlet to report on the news.
Under the initial first-degree charge, Boucher would have faced 25 years to life in prison.
Boucher's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 31.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Circuit Judge Patrick Conlin let Boucher enter a plea for the lesser charge due to "unusual" circumstances like Boucher's age at the time of the incident and how long ago it happened.
The incident occurred in 2011, when Boucher, then 17, assaulted a 12-year-old girl whose family hosted him as a billet family in Ann Arbor, Mich., when Boucher played for the USA Hockey development program.
"In March of 2011, we spoke to parents of both minors and there were no accusations made, but Boucher was proactively removed from the billet home," a USA Hockey spokesperson told The Athletic. "In March of 2021, we were notified by police of allegations of sexual misconduct and have fully cooperated with their investigation."
The judge can still change course on his sentence up until the Jan. 31 date at the request of the defence, in which case Boucher could withdraw his plea and face a trial.
Additionally, should Boucher break the conditions of his sentence under the HYTA, he could still face a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and the ramification of registering as a sex offender.
The survivor, now 23, says she has dealt with severe trauma, self-harm and substance abuse issues since the incident and is "disgusted" by the judge's reasoning, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“I feel like a lot of the progress I’ve made over the last 10 years -- that’s been undone," she said.
The survivor says she wrote a letter to the judge before the December hearing asking him not to make any concessions, she told the Detroit Free Press.
Sarah Rennie, executive director of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, took issue with Judge Conlin's reference to the length of time that's passed since the assault, telling the Detroit Free Press that reporting a sexual assault case years later is normal, especially if it happens at the young age of 12.
"It's an outrageous, unacceptable and illegal plea," Rennie told The Athletic's Katie Strang. "There should never have been a HYTA offered. It's not within the scope of the statute."
Boucher, 28, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils. He played in parts of six NHL seasons with the Devils, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks, and now plays for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL.
"Unequivocally, our organization did not know about this incident," Lamoriello said.