Police investigators in London, Ont., say they have reasonable grounds to believe that five members of the 2018 world junior hockey team sexually assaulted a woman in a hotel room after a Hockey Canada fundraising gala, a recent filing to the Ontario Court of Justice indicates.
In a 94-page document filed with the court and dated Oct. 17, the London Police Service asked a judge to approve a series of investigative measures, including warrants and production orders, in connection with its probe of the alleged group attack. The application lays out the case against each of the players. The evidence has not been tested in court and no charges have been laid. The Globe and Mail obtained the document from the Crown.
Some sections of the file have been redacted, including the names of the hockey players, details of the sex acts and the identity of the complainant, but it provides the fullest picture to date of what allegedly transpired in the early morning hours of June 19, 2018.
The application contains the first account of the players’ version of events and also includes summaries of interviews with players who were in the hotel room at the time, but who did not participate in the sexual acts. It also summarizes the two-hour video statement that the complainant, a woman identified as E.M., gave to police on June 22, 2018.
“I believe, when taking a global view of the evidence, [E.M.] subjectively believed that she had no alternative but to engage in the [specific sex act(s)]. Further, I believe that each of the suspects knew or ought to have known that [E.M.] had not consented,” wrote Sergeant David Younan, the application’s author.
The police service’s court filing includes several revelations, including that an older, well-dressed man was hanging around the hockey players at a downtown London bar where the complainant first met the athletes. E.M. told police that this “older gentleman” bought rounds of drinks for the group, poured a shot in her mouth and encouraged her to “take care of” the player she was dancing with – that player is referred to as Player 1 throughout the document.
The filing also reveals the existence of a group text message chat between players, in which Player 1 is alleged to have invited his teammates to his hotel room to engage in sexual acts with E.M. The police filing also states that someone at Hockey Canada gave Player 1 a head’s up that the police had been contacted about the night’s events. After learning this news, the filing says he searched out E.M. on Instagram and began messaging her on the app – and later via text message – to see if she had gone to police. He then urged her to make the complaint go away.
Prior to the police warrant application, the only public account of what transpired that night has come from a statement of claim that E.M. filed in April of this year against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and eight unnamed players. She was seeking $3.55-million in damages.
In that lawsuit, E.M. alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by the hockey players in a hotel room in downtown London while intoxicated. The players were in town for the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf, which took place on June 18, 2018 and which celebrated the gold medal-winning junior hockey team. At the time, the case was investigated by the London police, but in February, 2019, it was closed without charges.
In May, TSN reported that Hockey Canada had quietly settled the multimillion-dollar lawsuit for an undisclosed sum. The sports body had done this without consulting the players, whose identities have not been made public, but who have denied wrongdoing and say through a team of lawyers acting on their behalf that the sexual acts were consensual.
The Globe reached out to these lawyers on Sunday for comment on the London police court filing. None responded.
News of the settlement touched off a wave of questions about the conduct of the country’s most prominent sporting organization and whether it had attempted to conceal allegations of sexual assault against its star hockey players. Hockey Canada was called before a parliamentary committee in June to explain its actions – the first of a series of heated hearings this year. Since then, the federal government has frozen the organization’s funding, scores of high-profile sponsors have pulled their financial support, and the NHL is investigating the alleged sexual assaults.
Reporting by The Globe and Mail in July revealed that Hockey Canada kept a multimillion-dollar reserve known as the National Equity Fund – fed by the registration fees of players across the country – to pay out settlements in cases of alleged sexual assault without involving its insurance company, and with minimal outside scrutiny.
That month, The Globe also published details of the text-message exchange between Player 1 and E.M., which began over Instagram. In the conversation, the woman says she had been really drunk and felt taken advantage of. In the same story, The Globe reported on two short videos that were shot inside the hotel room, which lawyers representing some of the players say illustrate the sexual acts were consensual. The clips, which are six and 12 seconds long, show E.M. saying that she was “okay with this.” The London police application provides more context to these messages and videos.
Three days after the story was published, the London Police Service announced it would reopen its investigation of the 2018 alleged group sexual assault.
During the renewed investigation, which is being led by Detective Lyndsey Ryan of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse section, police learned about the existence of a group text message chat between an undisclosed number of world junior hockey team players. Lawyers representing four players provided police with copies of the conversations on thumb drives.
Part of the application to the Ontario Court of Justice was police seeking permission to review those messages, which for evidentiary reasons were sealed in a police locker pending authorization from a judge.
The application also requested a warrant for the Delta Armouries Hotel. Police wanted to photograph and analyze the unit in which the alleged offences occurred, but according to the filing, the hotel refused to allow police to enter the room without judicial authorization. Additionally, the London police sought to serve the law office of Henein Hutchison with a production order. The firm was hired by Hockey Canada in 2018 to conduct an independent review of the incident.
Specifically, the police were after “the fruits of the investigation” led by lawyer Danielle Robitaille, who also interviewed players who were involved. In the application, Sgt. Younan wrote that the police wanted access to Ms. Robitaille’s files so the records, “can be assessed against previous statements to ascertain consistency. Further, it is reasonable to believe that Danielle Robitaille asked different questions of the players and E.M. than our own investigators and therefore elicited different answers or new information about what occurred.”
After outlining the legal arguments in question, the warrant application begins with E.M.’s original statement to police. On June 22, 2018, E.M. met with London’s Detective Stephen Newton for two hours.
According to the court filing, she told the detective that four days earlier, she and a friend made plans to meet up with some acquaintances at Jack’s Bar in downtown London. She and her friend “V” arrived around 11 p.m. and soon after they joined other girls inside.
“[E.M.] indicated that she is shy in social settings with people she does not know, so before she attended the bar, she had two coolers of Mike’s Hard Lemonade,” the application stated.
Once inside, E.M. told the detective that she bought a couple of shots of Jägerbomb and headed to the dance floor. This is where she met Player 1.
For most of the night, E.M. said she hung around with Player 1 and his friends. These guys encircled her and kept “passing her back-and-forth between them to dance with her,” according to the application. They bought her drinks, such as a vodka soda and Jägerbombs. E.M. told police she was so drunk she fell near the bathroom. (Player 1 denied seeing her fall.)
In her interview with Det. Newton, E.M. said that she saw an older, well-dressed man hanging around Player 1 and his friends at Jack’s. In the application, he is referred to as M.M. and identified as a person whose “occupation” requires him to attend “functions such as this.” E.M. told police this man was complimenting Player 1 and told E.M. to “take care of him.” She said he was buying rounds for the group and at one point poured a Jägerbomb shot in her mouth. (The application shows M.M. spoke with police in August, 2022, but it notes he didn’t remember much.)
Throughout the night at Jack’s Bar, E.M. told the detective, Player 1 kept trying to convince her that his name was something else. “This was strange to her, because she kept hearing his group of friends referring to him as [redacted]” the application says.
Video surveillance that police reviewed from Jack’s Bar showed E.M. consuming eight drinks through the evening, although the court filing notes that the footage doesn’t capture the dance floor and some other places where E.M. went in the bar. Based on the footage, it’s not possible to determine if each drink was fully consumed.
Sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., E.M. said that Player 1 announced “we are leaving now” and the pair took a taxi to the Delta Armouries Hotel. Once in his room, they engaged in consensual sex.
E.M. told the detective that when they had finished, she noticed Player 1 texting on his phone. Two of his friends entered the room not long after. She went to the bathroom and returned to find Player 1 gone, and “approximately seven or eight guys in the room with her.” Player 1 later returned with food.
E.M. went on to describe sex acts that she says she was made to perform. She says she was also spit on and slapped on her buttocks multiple times until she complained of pain and asked that it stop. E.M. told Det. Newton that she felt like an object and that the players were laughing at her. There was a suggestion that the players may use golf clubs in the room as part of a sex act. “[E.M.] said that players were talking about the golf club and [specific sex act(s)] [E.M.] laughed and said no because she did not know how else to react,” the application said.
At one point, she described going into the bathroom to cry. From there, she overheard the players discussing the fact that she was crying. She told Det. Newton she tried to leave, but the players would say “oh come on, don’t leave” and walk her back from the door.
“No one physically stopped her from leaving and according to [E.M.] it did not take that much convincing for her to stay, given her level of intoxication,” the application says.
This past summer, after the London Police Service reopened the case, E.M. submitted a new written statement. In this document, she elaborates on her thinking that night. E.M. said that while the players didn’t use physical force to prevent her from leaving, the small hotel room was very crowded, so leaving wasn’t really an option. “All the guys were large. It was very intimidating. I was stuck in that room and I didn’t really have a clear exit even if I wanted to leave. It was a long night.”
During the events in the hotel room, Player 1 recorded two short videos of E.M. After the woman’s initial interview with Det. Newton, a lawyer representing Player 1 gave copies of the videos to the London police. About a month later, E.M. sat for another interview, this time with Detective-Constable Jilaine McConnell. In that interview, she said the video was shot towards the end of the night. In a six-second clip, Player 1 asks her if she’s “okay with this” and she says she is. In the second video, which is 12 seconds, E.M. says “You are so paranoid, holy. I enjoyed it, it was fine, it was all consensual.” The Globe reported on the existence of these videos in July, which were shown to two reporters by lawyers for some of the players.
E.M. told the detective she didn’t realize the first video was being recorded. She said she had been crying and can be seen wiping tears or mascara away from her eyes in this video. With the second clip, she said she felt she had to say she was fine because “I’m stuck in that room with them.” She appeared sober in both videos, but she says she was acting.
The application shows at least eight players have been interviewed by the London police and three others submitted written statements. The court filing summarizes their testimony. Some of these players described sex acts that occurred within the room and many identified players that were present or involved at the time. Large portions of the summaries of these interviews are redacted.
Player 1 addressed the creation of these videos in his November, 2018 interview with Det. Newton. According to the filing, Player 1 told the officer that E.M. had offered him a specific sex act and before it occurred, he recorded the video because he was worried about a potential police investigation. The application says: “[Player 1] was worried something like this – in reference to a police investigation – would happen.”
Player 1 said he met E.M. at Jack’s. They were both drinking, but he thought E.M.’s “sobriety was fine” – the court filing says, paraphrasing his words – at the time that they left for the Delta Armouries Hotel.
According to Player 1′s account, after their consensual sex, he decided to order food and left the room briefly to pick up the delivery in the lobby. E.M. told Det. Newton she wasn’t sure where he went, but he returned and proceeded to eat chicken wings on his bed.
“[Player 1] confirmed texting his teammates to come to his room. Another group of guys from the hockey team came into the hotel room. [Player 1] believed there were eight or nine guys in the room in total,” the application says.
Another player who spoke to police described receiving messages from Player 1 in a group chat. The filing says Player 1 “sent a text message asking if anyone in the group conversation would like [specific sex act(s)].” Another teammate replied: “yes.”
Player 1′s roommate, identified as Player 2, spoke to police in November, 2018. The roommate told investigators that he had been at a different bar that night – Joe Kool’s – with two other players, when Player 1 texted to say there was a girl who wanted to engage in sexual activity in their hotel room. At that point, Player 2 and the other guys left for the Delta hotel.
According to the application, Player 2 engaged in sex acts with E.M. “without speaking with her.”
In her 2018 interview, E.M. told Det. Newton that she couldn’t remember how the night concluded, except that most of the players left the room. Player 1 told her he had to get up to play golf the next morning and “are you going to leave anytime soon?” She alleged he also asked her: “you aren’t going to the police?”
In recounting the events of June 18 and June 19 to Det. Newton, E.M. repeatedly blamed herself, telling the officer that she should not have put herself in that situation, according to the filing.
After leaving the hotel, E.M. says she took an Uber and wept on the drive home.
Her mother told police that around 5 a.m. she found E.M. in the shower with the water running, “seated clasping her knees and rocking back and forth,” the filing says, paraphrasing her mother. It was E.M.’s mother who reported the events to the London police. Her husband also contacted someone at Hockey Canada. He passed along a photo of Player 1 taken at Jack’s on the night of the alleged attack.
The next day, the application says, Player 1 looked for E.M. on Instagram after being told by someone from Hockey Canada that a police investigation was underway.
On June 20, Player 1 messaged E.M. on the app. They later talked through text messages.
“Did u go to the police after Sunday?” the player asked.
Numerous texts followed when E.M. didn’t reply. Then she responded: “I talked to my mom about it and she called I think but I told her not to. I don’t want anything bad to come of it so I told her to stop.”
The player told her she said she was having fun.
“I understand that you are embarrassed about what happened. But you need to talk to your mother right now and straighten things out with the police before this goes to far. This is a serious matter that she is mis representing and could have significant implications for a lot of people including you. What can you do to make this go away?” Player 1 wrote in a text, according to the application, which cited images of the conversation. (The Globe had previously reported on this exchange.)
E.M. later told the player she informed police it was a mistake and she didn’t want to pursue the matter.
In speaking with Det. Newton about this exchange, E.M. explained she only said this to get him to leave her alone.
Det. Newton concluded his investigation in February, 2019. He believed there was not enough evidence to lay charges. His reasoning is redacted.
Today, nearly four years later, there are three ongoing probes into what transpired at the Delta Armouries Hotel, including the reopened London Police Service investigation. Hockey Canada and the NHL are conducting their own independent probes.