WARNING: This text accommodates graphic content and will affect those that have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
When police in London, Ont., carried out two separate investigations into the 2018 sexual assault allegations which have rocked Hockey Canada, they examined the identical series of events, but got here to different conclusions.
The primary investigation into allegations that members of the 2018 Canadian world junior team participated in a gaggle sexual assault at a downtown hotel concluded in February 2019 that there weren’t “reasonable grounds to consider sexual assault occurred.”
Three years later, after the allegations became public, London police reopened their investigation.
In accordance with documents filed in court, police now say they’ve reasonable grounds to consider five junior hockey players sexually assaulted a 20-year-old woman on the hotel.
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Melanie Randall, a law professor at Western University in London and a legal expert on sexual assaults, says this about-face shows the unique investigation was “cursory at best.”
“A few of the things [the police are] looking into now clearly must have been looked into in 2018 and 2019,” Randall told The Fifth Estate.
London police Chief Stephen Williams, who initiated the review of the primary investigation, declined to comment.
“This stays an open and lively investigation, subsequently it shouldn’t be appropriate for Chief Williams to talk to it at the moment,” a media representative for London police told The Fifth Estate.
The fallout of what’s alleged to have happened in that hotel room five years ago still echoes across Canada.
Because the first news reports concerning the alleged sexual assault got here out in May 2022, the board of directors and a number of other managers of Hockey Canada have resigned. The organization’s funds and policies have come under scrutiny.
Questions at the moment are also being raised about how London police handled the allegations.
“It could have been the case that the investigating officer made some assumptions about what happened to assume that there have been no reasonable or probable grounds that a criminal event took place,” Randall told The Fifth Estate.
After a Hockey Canada Foundation gala in London in June 2018, some members of the junior hockey team went to Jack’s, a neighborhood pub.
In accordance with a press release of claim filed by the alleged victim, E.M., they met her at Jack’s. The 20-year-old London native had come into the pub with friends. It was Monday, a $1 beer night in Jack’s.
In her statement of claim, E.M. alleges that junior hockey players got her drunk, buying her drinks and shots. She says she became intoxicated, with “glassy eyes, slurred speech, stumbling and lack of balance.”
She left Jack’s bar with certainly one of the players and went to his room on the Delta Armouries hotel in London, where that they had consensual sex, she said within the claim.
After that, the player invited his teammates to the room, and that is when, in accordance with E.M., the sexual assault happened.
The initial police investigation concluded in February 2019 with none charges being laid. There was no public awareness of the case until May 2022 when TSN reported that Hockey Canada had settled the civil lawsuit out of court.
London police reopened the case after a public outcry.
Randall reviewed London police’s Information to Obtain (ITO), an affidavit submitted as a part of the police’s application to the court for a search warrant.
The document lays out their findings as of October 2022, and the the explanation why they consider an offence could have been committed.
The Globe and Mail first published details of the document in December 2022.
“It’s the primary time we have got a way of what happened that night from the players’ perspective,” Robyn Doolittle, an investigative reporter for The Globe and Mail, told The Fifth Estate.
The document shows the girl and the players agree, on the whole, on what happened, but disagree on one key point: her consent.
E.M. said she agreed to go to the hotel room with one player, but didn’t agree on other players coming into the room. Players who were interviewed by police see it in a different way.
WATCH | Anatomy of a Scandal on The Fifth Estate:
“Passivity doesn’t equal consent. Silence doesn’t equal consent,” Randall said after reviewing the ITO.
In accordance with the court document, through the initial investigation, E.M. told police certainly one of the players never spoke to her before having sex together with her.
“How did you ascertain that E.M. was consenting in the event you didn’t speak to her?” Doolittle told The Fifth Estate. “That is an issue that [the player] could have to reply sooner or later.”
A giant concern for Randall is the undeniable fact that the primary investigation showed that London police might need not understood legally what consent ought to be.
“The affirmative consent standard requires lively communicated consent to the sexual intercourse in query that’s contemporaneous. It may’t be given upfront. It may’t be given after the actual fact,” Randall said.
Not fully understanding what consent means could have contributed to the choice to not pursue the case in 2019, the expert believes.
Police diligence questioned
In accordance with Randall, the police didn’t do sufficient due diligence in pursuing all of the investigative avenues that ought to have been followed.
“The police must have interviewed way more of the players,” Randall said. “That was nowhere near the thoroughness that it must have been.”
Certainly one of the witnesses police didn’t interview through the first investigation was M.M. “an older gentleman,” as E.M. described him, who was at Jack’s with the group of junior players.
M.M. might be seen within the photos that were posted on Jack’s Facebook page after that night. Those pictures were removed after they were included in a broadcast by The Fifth Estate in September 2022.
“Apparently, he said to the young woman to maintain the player,” Randall said. “One can only be left to interpret what which means.”
WATCH | Law professor assesses documents filed in court:
Neither police nor E.M. suggest M.M. was involved with the alleged sexual assault.
M.M. declined to comment after The Fifth Estate contacted him.
In accordance with the court document, initially police weren’t aware of a gaggle chat between junior hockey players who had been in London.
After police reopened the investigation, lawyers for 4 players contacted investigators and provided conversations from the unique 2018 hockey team group chat that were saved on three thumb drives.
Certainly one of those players was within the room with E.M. but, in accordance with the court document, shouldn’t be suspected of being involved within the alleged sexual assault.
“I feel there are really vital inquiries to be asked here about why [the group chat] was not uncovered the primary time around, I mean that is pretty basic stuff,” Doolittle told The Fifth Estate.
The three thumb drives are still in a police locker. Police have applied for a court authorization with the intention to view them.
Randall finds the undeniable fact that the primary investigation didn’t obtain the group chat “unconscionable.”
That’s “why I said the investigation appears to have been superficial,” Randall said. “It could have been the case that the investigating officer … assumed that there have been no reasonable or probable grounds that a criminal event took place.”
The initial investigation concluded in February 2019 with none charges being laid. The reasoning behind that call was redacted from the affidavit police submitted to court in December.
“Police usually are not well often known as an establishment for taking responsibility and being accountable and saying: ‘We screwed up,'” Randall said.
“We are able to only speculate because there’s an inadequate amount of knowledge.”
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In the event you or someone has been affected by sexual assault, help is on the market through: Endingviolencecanada.org. Free and confidential one-on-one mental health support from professionals is on the market 24/7 from Wellness Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or texting WELLNESS to 686868 for youth and 741741 for adults. In the event you are in immediate danger or fear in your safety, call 911.