SPENCER VAN DYK
The Fulcrum (University of Ottawa)
OTTAWA — The University of Ottawa has suspended its men’s varsity hockey program due to allegations that certain members of the team were involved in a gang sexual assault.
According to Thunder Bay police, some team members were allegedly involved in the sexual assault of a female university student in Thunder Bay several weeks ago, though the incident was only reported to the U of O administration by a third party on Feb. 24.
The university reported the incident to police the following day and said they will be cooperating with the investigation and launching an internal review. The review will be conducted by a third party outside the university.
The team played two games in Thunder Bay on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
Until the review is complete, it is unknown whether the team will participate in the 2014–15 season. In the interim, members are suspended from all team-related activities, but are still able to attend classes.
The investigation is being led by Thunder Bay police’s sexual assault unit. Ottawa police will assist in any follow-up investigation the Thunder Bay police may need.
The female involved in the assault is now cooperating with Thunder Bay police.
“These are serious allegations,” said Patrick Charette, director of corporate communications at the U of O, at a press meeting. “You will also appreciate that there are all kinds of legal rights, including privacy of all innocent parties involved.”
Charette said the university was asked by police not to communicate publicly about the investigation until March 3.
The university will not reveal how many of its student athletes were involved in the incident.
Police also notified administrators at Lakehead University of the incident, primarily to say that none of the Thunderwolves players are alleged to have been involved. According to Lakehead spokesperson Toby Goodfellow, police have told the university that the alleged incident did not take place on campus.
Nicole Desnoyers, vice-president equity for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, said the federation has very little information about the incident at this point.
She said the SFUO, joined by the Graduate Students’ Association and other student groups, is launching a taskforce to look at how to improve and build upon support structures currently in place as well as how to engage students in the discussion surrounding rape culture.
“This is pointing to a much larger, systemic issue on campus,” she said. “It is extremely pervasive.”
The Gee-Gees’ season ended Feb. 21 after they lost to the Queen’s Gaels in the provincial playoffs.