Sheldon Kennedy Calls for Hockey Canada to Release Alleged Sexual Assault Report
Editor’s note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHL player, is calling for Hockey Canada to release its report about allegations that eight Canadian Hockey League players sexually assaulted a women in 2018.
After a Hockey Canada gala event in June of that year, a woman alleged that eight players, including members of Canada’s 2017–18 World Junior team, sexually assaulted her. The woman filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the CHL and the eight players, who were not named in the documents.
TSN reported last week that a settlement was reached, but last Thursday, the NHL announced it would investigate the facts around the lawsuit. According to The Athletic, the league called the alleged behavior “both abhorrent and reprehensible.”
“We will endeavor to determine the underlying facts and, to the extent this may involve players who are now in the NHL, we will determine what action, if any, would be appropriate,” the league said in a statement.
According to TSN, Hockey Canada contacted London police and hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation.
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In an interview with TSN on Tuesday, Kennedy said “My question is why does Hockey Canada feel this is not important for the public to know?”
He added, “These players who were allegedly involved, John Does 1 to 8, were at the Hockey Canada awards gala. These are the young men who are the elite of the elite. In today’s world, how is it that not one of those eight players had the courage or the care or the clarity to stand up and say, ’No. This is not happening.’ Even if some of them did not participate, they were bystanders. Why didn’t anyone say anything? There was this fear to stand up and say, ‘We better not do this, guys.’”
Kennedy disclosed in 1996 that he was repeatedly sexually abused by his coach during his time in the Western Hockey League during the 1980s. This triggered Hockey Canada to establish new rules that required coaches in top junior programs to go through background checks and a hotline was created for players to report abuse.
“I remember back when my story broke, the advice organizations received about how to deal with sexual assault and child abuse cases was egregious,” Kennedy said to TSN. “They were told, ‘Don’t say anything. It’s going to go away.’ That’s no longer acceptable. Being open and transparent is critical. We need to make sure everyone involved who was hurt is safe and there needs to be accountability.”
According to the claim obtained by The Athletic, the woman met John Doe 1 at a bar, who not only introduced her to a number of his teammates but also bought her shots and other alcoholic beverages. The woman said in the claim that she was separated from her friends and became increasingly intoxicated.
She left and went to a hotel with John Doe 1, per the claim, “where they engaged in sexual acts” in his room. The woman said in the filing, “John Doe 1 invited the remainder of the John Doe defendants into the room without the knowledge or consent of the Plaintiff.”
Over the next several hours, the woman said the defendants engaged in all or some of the following: “directing the Plantiff to fondle her genitals and to perform oral sex on them”; “straddling the Plaintiff while placing their genitals in her face”, “slapping the buttocks of the Plaintiff”, “spitting on the Plaintiff”, “ejaculating in and on the Plaintiff”, “engaging in vaginal intercourse with the Plaintiff”; and “engaging in other sexual activities with the Plaintiff.”