Content Warning: The following article contains references to sexual assault.
Halifax police said they have opened a criminal investigation into sexual assault allegations related to Canada’s 2003 World Junior team.
In a statement released to TSN on Friday, Halifax police constable John MacLeod wrote that his department received a report late Thursday related to a historical sexual assault that is alleged to have occurred in Halifax in 2003.
“It is not our practice to provide information in relation to individuals involved in investigations unless charges have been laid and sworn before the courts,” MacLeod wrote in an email. “We take all matters of this nature very seriously and will be conducting a thorough investigation.”
Earlier on Friday, Hockey Canada wrote in a statement that two weeks ago it “heard a rumour about ‘something bad’ at the 2003 World Juniors. In order to learn more, Hockey Canada hired a third-party investigator to try to find more information.”
The national governing body for hockey said it was unable to learn anything about the alleged incident before being contacted by TSN. Halifax was the co-host city of the event.
“We believe the alleged incident from 2003 should be investigated by the authorities, and we urge the police to open an investigation into this disturbing situation,” Hockey Canada wrote in the statement. “Hockey Canada will cooperate with and support the authorities in every way we can, and we once again urge anyone who may have relevant information about this alleged incident to contact Halifax police immediately.”
The statement was released after Conservative MP John Nater, a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, told TSN on Thursday he plans to ask Hockey Canada on July 27 to respond to allegations that more than a half-dozen players on the 2003 World Junior team were recorded during the tournament having sex with a woman who was naked and non-responsive.
Nater, who represents the southwestern Ontario riding of Perth-Wellington, said he spoke with a source who said he viewed a video of the alleged incident in the spring of 2003, several months after the World Junior tournament was held in Halifax.
“We’re talking about Canada’s elite national team and to hear allegations like this is just disgusting,” Nater said.