Police have charged two University of Ottawa hockey players with sexual assault after a months-long investigation into an incident at a Thunder Bay hotel.
The alleged assault in February involved a 21-year-old woman and only came to light after a third party informed the university and police a few weeks later. The university suspended the entire men’s hockey team from sports activities for 2014-15, scrapping an entire season, and dismissed head coach Réal Paiement after he failed to report the alleged incident to senior administrators.
Thunder Bay police said Friday that they have charged Guillaume Donovan, 24, and David Foucher, 25, with sexual assault stemming from an incident on Feb. 2 at a West Arthur Street hotel. The pair, both from Gatineau, Que., will appear in court on Sept. 30.
The incident, believed to have taken place in an atmosphere of excessive drinking, is alleged to have occurred during a team trip to Thunder Bay for two games against Lakehead University on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
Mr. Donovan is listed on the team’s roster as a forward, who is studying geography. Mr. Foucher was a defenceman enrolled in the university’s human kinetics program; a university spokeswoman said Mr. Foucher graduated last spring.
Police say their investigation involved travelling to Ottawa in March to interview members of the hockey program.
After learning of the incident on Feb. 24, the university’s president, Allan Rock, initiated an independent internal investigation to examine the school’s policies and procedures. Investigators found that some players engaged in “unacceptable” behaviour during the road trip to Thunder Bay.
The punishment to suspend the men’s hockey season angered several players who were not involved in the alleged incident. They have hired a lawyer and are considering suing the university for defamation.
The university said in a statement on Friday that it will continue to co-operate with police, and the fact that only two players were charged will not affect the school’s decision to suspend the men’s hockey program.
“That decision followed our review of an independent investigator’s report about the events in Thunder Bay,” the statement said. “It is important to note that in evaluating that report, the university’s focus was not on whether a criminal offence had been committed or whether a conviction could be secured. The university’s focus was on whether the players’ behaviour met the standards that the university community is entitled to expect from those who have the privilege of wearing the university’s colours.”
The university said it is hiring a new coach for the 2015-16 season and putting in place new policies and behaviour guidelines for student athletes.