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Timeline: Hockey Canada's handling of 2018 sexual assault allegation

A timeline of Hockey Canada's response to an alleged sexual assault involving eight players in London, Ont., in 2018:

Jan. 5, 2018 — Canada's world junior hockey team defeats Sweden in the gold-medal final in Buffalo, N.Y. 

June 18, 2018 — Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf event begins in London. 

June 19, 2018 — A woman's stepfather informs Hockey Canada she alleges she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the world junior team, while intoxicated the previous night following the event. Hockey Canada says it spoke with its insurance provider and then informed London police, which opened an investigation. Hockey Canada subsequently opened its own third-party investigation using a Toronto law firm. 

June 2018 — Hockey Canada says it informed Sport Canada of the alleged incident. 

February 2019 — Hockey Canada says London police informed the federation its criminal investigation was closed. Hockey Canada says the woman declined to speak with authorities or its own investigators. 

September 2020 — Hockey Canada says it closed its investigation. 

April 2022 — The woman files a statement of claim seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the eight unnamed players. 

May 2022 — Hockey Canada settles the lawsuit with the woman for an undisclosed amount out of court. 

May 2022 — Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney calls Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, whose file includes Hockey Canada, to tell her TSN will be breaking the story in the coming days. St-Onge says the conversation is the first time she's heard of the alleged incident or settlement. 

May 26, 2022 — TSN reports the details of the alleged assault and settlement. 

June 2, 2022 — St-Onge orders a forensic audit of Hockey Canada to ensure no public funds were used as part of the settlement. 

June 20, 2022 — Renney and Hockey Canada president Scott Smith are grilled by MPs during a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting about the organization's response to the situation. Smith and Renney testify the 19 players present in London were "strongly encouraged" to speak with third-party investigators, but not mandated to do so. Hockey Canada adds it does not know the identities of the eight players in question. Smith testifies Hockey Canada has reported three sexual assault complaints in recent years, including the London incident, but won't discuss the other two in front of the committee. 

June 22, 2022 — St-Onge announces a freeze to Hockey Canada's federal funding until the organization discloses recommendations made by the third-party law firm and becomes a signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new government agency with the power to investigate abuse complaints and levy sanctions. 

June 22, 2022 — The House of Commons unanimously approves a Bloc Québécois motion to pursue an independent investigation that will look into how Hockey Canada dealt with the allegations. 

June 28, 2022 — Scotiabank announces it is pausing sponsorship of Hockey Canada until the financial institution is confident the right steps are taken to improve the culture within the sport. Retail giant Canadian Tire and telecommunications company Telus follow suit later in the day, withdrawing support from the pandemic-delayed world junior hockey championship in August. 

June 29, 2022 — Tim Hortons and Imperial Oil, under its Esso brand, join a growing list of companies to pull sponsorship dollars. 

June 30, 2022 — NHL defenceman Victor Mete, a member of the 2018 world junior team, says he was not involved in the alleged assault, adding in a social media post he was on vacation with his family at the time. Mete says he's "deeply troubled by reports of this incident" and will fully co-operate with investigators if requested. 

June 30, 2022 — Renney retires as CEO of Hockey Canada after announcing a succession plan in April that tabbed Smith take over on July 1.

July 1, 2022 — Smith takes over as CEO of Hockey Canada. He also remains president of the federation.

July 14, 2022 — Hockey Canada says in an open letter to Canadians it is reopening a third-party investigation into the alleged 2018 assault. The sport's national federation adds participation by the players in question will be mandatory, and that anyone who declines will be banned from all activities and programs. Hockey Canada says it now requires players, coaches, team staff and volunteers associated with its high-performance program to participate in mandatory sexual violence and consent training. It will also conduct a third-party review of the organization's governance, and commits to become a full signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. Hockey Canada adds it will also create an "independent and confidential complaint mechanism" to provide victims and survivors tools and support to come forward. 

July 18, 2022 — The Canadian Press is first to report Hockey Canada has maintained a fund that draws on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. The detail is included in a July 2021 affidavit sworn by Glen McCurdie, who was then Hockey Canada's vice-president of insurance and risk management, as part of a lawsuit launched by an injured player in Ontario.

July 19, 2022 — Hockey Canada confirms the existence of the "National Equity Fund" in a statement, adding it covers a "broad range of expenses related to safety, wellness and equity initiatives" across the organization. "The fund is also used to pay for the organization's insurance premiums and to cover any claims not otherwise covered by insurance policies, including those related to physical injury, harassment, and sexual misconduct," the statement read. Hockey Canada says the fund was "established in a manner consistent with reserve funds maintained by other large national organizations." 

July 19, 2022 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasts Hockey Canada's leadership over the "National Equity Fund" being used to settle sexual abuse claims. "I think right now it's hard for anyone in Canada to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada," Trudeau tells reporters on Bowen Island, B.C. "What we're learning … is absolutely unacceptable."

July 19, 2022 — St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas, a member of the 2018 world junior team, joins a growing list of players from the roster to deny involvement in the alleged assault. 

July 20, 2022 — Hockey Canada says it will no longer use its "National Equity Fund" to settle sexual assault claims. 

July 20, 2022 — Police in London order an internal review of their investigation into the alleged 2018 sexual assault. Chief Steve Williams says in a statement his department's review will determine if any "additional investigative avenues may exist." He adds the original investigation, which concluded without charges, was "lengthy and detailed."

July 21, 2022 — Trudeau says there needs to be a "real reckoning" at Hockey Canada. Speaking to reporters in Elmsdale, N.S., Trudeau adds the federation "has to do an awful lot" to regain the trust of Canadians. 

July 22, 2022 — Hockey Canada says members of its 2003 men's world junior hockey championship team are being investigated for a group sexual assault. Hockey Canada says it has contacted Halifax Regional Police about the allegations because Halifax was the co-host city of the 2003 world junior hockey championship.

July 22, 2022 — London police chief Steve Williams announced his force was reopening its investigation into the alleged 2018 sexual assault.

July 25, 2022 — Players on Canada's Olympic and world championship women's hockey teams issue a joint statement demanding a thorough investigation into the 2018 and 2003 allegations. The statement says Hockey Canada has a lot to do to address "toxic behaviour" in the sport. The statement comes after Hockey Canada announces an "action plan" that includes, among other measures, the implementation by the end of September of a centralized tracking and reporting system for abuse complaints. The women say they are "encouraged" by the action plan but say it's a first step toward addressing toxic behaviour in hockey.

July 26, 2022 — Another round of parliamentary hearings investigating Hockey Canada's response to the 2018 allegation begins in Ottawa. Michel Ruest, a senior director at Sport Canada, says the federal organization was made aware of an alleged sexual assault involving members of Team Canada’s world junior hockey team in late June 2018, but did not follow up with Hockey Canada at the time. Former NHL player and victims rights advocate Sheldon Kennedy calls for the resignation of Smith, his leadership team and the organization's board of directors.

July 27, 2022 — Hockey Canada chief financial officer Brian Cairo says the organization used its National Equity Fund to pay out $7.6 million in nine settlements related to sexual assault and sexual abuse claims since 1989, with $6.8 million of that related to serial abuser Graham James. The figure does not include the undisclosed amount of the 2018 settlement. Smith is questioned by MPs a second time, and resists calls for his resignation from a bipartisan selection of politicians. Smith tells reporters the world junior championship will begin as planned Aug. 9 in Edmonton.

Aug. 2, 2022 — The lawyer for the complainant in the 2018 lawsuit says his client passed a polygraph test, which was provided to the London Police, the Hockey Canada review and NHL investigators. The International Ice Hockey Federation says in a statement to The Canadian Press it has launched an inquiry into Hockey Canada's actions, including the reopened investigation.

Aug. 4, 2022 — Former Supreme Court of Canada judge Thomas Cromwell is named the head of a review into Hockey Canada's governance. Hockey Canada said the review will begin immediately and is expected to provide interim recommendations before its annual general meeting in November.

Aug. 5, 2022 — Hockey Quebec says the country's 13 provincial hockey federations, all members of Hockey Canada, have requested an "extraordinary meeting" with the embattled national body. In a letter to its members, Hockey Quebec say the 10 provincial and three territorial federations want more information on the handling of the sexual assault allegations stemming from an event in London, Ont. in June 2018 and the role Hockey Canada's board played once made aware. In the letter, Hockey Quebec says payment of dues are contingent on getting answers.

Aug. 6, 2022 — Hockey Canada board chair Michael Brind’Amour resigns before his term expires in November. He says he's leaving to accelerate change and a new era for the organization. Brind'Amour was elected board chair in 2018.

Aug. 9, 2022 — Toronto lawyer Andrea Skinner is appointed interim chair of Hockey Canada's board of directors. The national governing body's 13 provincial, regional and territorial associations recommended Skinner step in as interim chair until the current board's term ends in November, Hockey Canada says in a statement.

Aug. 29, 2022 — Skinner releases a statement on Hockey Canada's website declaring the board of directors' support of Smith and his executive team.

Sept. 20, 2022 - Hockey Canada interim board of directors chair Andrea Skinner, former chair Michael Brind'Amour and former president and chief executive officer Bob Nicholson are summoned to testify at an Oct. 4 meeting of the standing committee on Canadian heritage.

Oct. 4, 2022 - Hockey Canada's former and current board chairs defended the sporting body's leadership in a hearing before the Canadian Heritage standing committee. Former chair Michael Brind'Amour said he believes president and CEO Scott Smith has the qualities to "do something positive for the organization." Interim chair Andrea Skinner told the committee that hockey should not be made a "scapegoat" or "centrepiece" for toxic culture that exists elsewhere.

Oct. 5, 2022 - Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization. Hockey Quebec has also decided to keep the portion of registration fees normally handed over to the national organization, which amounts to $3 per sign-up. Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge supported the move.

Oct. 5, 2022 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it "boggles the mind" that past and present board chairs are digging in their heels about replacing the entire leadership team at the sport's governing body. Trudeau and Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge have both called for Hockey Canada executives to step down.

Oct. 5, 2022 - Tim Hortons pulls sponsorship from all Hockey Canada men's programming this season, including the world junior men's championship. The company, which suspended its sponsorship in June, says it will continue to fund national women's and para hockey programs, as well as youth hockey.

Oct. 6, 2022 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government could step in and allow a new national body to replace scandal-plagued Hockey Canada.

Oct. 6, 2022 - Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says he needs to see meaningful changes at Hockey Canada before the 2023 world junior hockey championship can proceed in his province. 

Oct. 6, 2022 - The Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Eastern Ontario and Hockey Northwestern Ontario ask that their member's $3 participant fees not be collected by Hockey Canada.

Oct. 7, 2022 - Hockey New Brunswick is the latest provincial governing body to suspend its $3-per-player participant fee to Hockey Canada.

Oct. 7, 2022 - Nike has suspended its partnership with and paused support for Hockey Canada. Hockey Canada's website lists Nike as one of its four premier marketing partners. The other three — Tim Hortons, Esso and Telus — have also suspended support for hockey's governing body.

Oct. 8, 2022 -  Andrea Skinner submits her resignation as the interim chair of Hockey Canada's board of directors. "Upon reflection, it is clear to me from recent events that it no longer makes sense for me to continue to volunteer my time as Interim Chair or as a Director of the organization," Skinner said in a statement.

Oct. 11, 2022 - Bauer Hockey paused its role as the official equipment provider for Hockey Canada's men's teams and its sponsorship of men's tournaments.

Oct. 11, 2022 - Scott Smith is out as Hockey Canada's president and CEO, the organization announced following interim recommendations from Thomas Cromwell's governance review. The board of directors also resigns. 

Nov. 4, 2022 - The full 221-page report of Thomas Cromwell's review is published. The report says Hockey Canada is at a "crossroads" and calls for more oversight and accountability at the organization. Recommendations include a restructuring of the board of directors and improved organizational practices, including the taking of minutes at all Hockey Canada meetings.

 

 This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2022.

The Canadian Press