Hockey Canada reports alleged assault involving 2003 world juniors team

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP / Getty

Hockey Canada is urging the authorities to open an investigation after learning on Thursday of an alleged group sexual assault from 2003 involving members of the 2002-03 national junior team.

The organization says it first heard of a rumor about "something bad at the 2003 World Juniors" two weeks ago but was unable to find out any more details after hiring a third-party investigator.

TSN's Rick Westhead then contacted Hockey Canada with more details of the alleged assault on Thursday evening. Westhead spoke to multiple witnesses and Conservative MP John Nater, who holds similar information about the alleged incident.

Halifax was the co-host city of the 2003 IIHF World Junior Championship, and Hockey Canada said it reached out to Halifax Regional Police immediately after hearing from Westhead.

Halifax Regional Police said it received a report related to the alleged sexual assault on Thursday evening and that it would be conducting a "thorough investigation," according to The Athletic's Katie Strang.

Hockey Canada added it will cooperate with and support the authorities in any way it can.

"Hockey Canada is committed to bringing an end to the culture of silence in hockey," the organization wrote in a statement. "That is why we are publicly calling for anyone with knowledge of this incident to come forward to police, and we are being transparent in how we learned of this alleged assault and the steps we are taking to address it."

Three sources who claim to have seen a video allegedly showing half a dozen players having non-consensual sex with a woman during the 2003 tournament in Halifax told Westhead they would testify in private before a government committee.

The NHL addressed the alleged incident with a statement a couple hours later.

"We were made aware earlier today of the horrific allegations against members of the 2002-03 Canadian National Junior Team," the league wrote. "The National Hockey League will look into the allegations and will respond appropriately."

Hockey Canada has been under intense scrutiny after details emerged about an alleged sexual assault involving members of the 2018 world junior team.

A woman says she was assaulted by eight unnamed CHL players in June of that year following a Hockey Canada gala event in London, Ontario. The lawsuit wasn't heard in court. It was filed in April 2022 and settled in May.

While testifying about the settled sexual assault lawsuit before the House of Commons in June, outgoing Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said the organization has dealt with one or two allegations of sexual assault per year over the past five or six years.

Hockey Canada released another statement on Wednesday saying it would no longer use a fund maintained by membership fees to settle sexual assault claims.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently spoke out against Hockey Canada; the organization has also lost government funding and corporate sponsorships in light of the alleged 2018 sexual assault.

"I think right now it's hard for anyone in Canada to have faith or trust in anyone at Hockey Canada," he said earlier this week, according to the Canadian Press' Joshua Clipperton.

"What we're learning is absolutely unacceptable."

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Hockey Canada reports alleged assault involving 2003 world juniors team
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