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“Most severe challenge in getting a conviction” – NHL insider highlights complexities surrounding Hockey Canada scandal trial

The complexities surrounding the Hockey Canada scandal trial have come to the forefront, with Sportsnet’s Senior Editor, Paul D. Grant, shedding light on the main takeaways from the recent press conference by the London Police Service on the 2018 Canadian World Junior investigation.

As David Amber sought insights, a critical question emerged:

“What other challenges does the Crown face in getting convictions?”

Grant emphasized the pivotal role of time in this intricate legal saga. According to court documents, the alleged incident transpired in June 2018, prompting an investigation by the London police shortly thereafter. However, the case was concluded without charges in February 2019.

“Time is a common thread throughout this incident,” Grant said.

“After news came to light in the aftermath of the settlement by Hockey Canada with the victim in April 2022, an internal review was conducted by London police, after which the investigation was re-opened by then-Police Chief Steve Williams in July 2022,” Grant added.

An internal review was initiated by the London police in April 2022 after news about Hockey Canada’s settlement with the victim surfaced. Former Police Chief Steve Williams reopened the investigation in July 2022, and it resulted in charges being laid in the last week of January 2024.

The protracted timeline raises significant concerns. Grant noted that a trial, given the multitude of motions and Ontario’s overbooked court system, might not commence until 2026.

“Under more typical circumstances, it’s difficult to get a conviction in sexual assault cases but the fact the trial could potentially begin eight years after the first investigation could be the most severe challenge in getting a conviction,” Grant said.

One complex aspect contributing to this is the role of inebriation during the alleged incident.

“Given that inebriation was a factor at the time of the alleged incident, adding years to memory recall at the time by the time there is a trial will further exacerbate that challenge,” Grant added.

Recent pronouncements from Hockey Canada

Hockey Canada has confirmed the suspension of all members of the 2018 U20 Team Canada roster from sanctioned events amid an ongoing investigation into potential breaches of the organization’s code of conduct.

The suspension remains in place during the appeals process initiated in 2023, with no specified timeline provided. Players are ineligible for international events, except the NHL-sanctioned “4 Nations Face-Off” in 2025.

“We must work diligently and urgently to ensure that we are putting in place the necessary measures to regain their trust, and provide all participants with a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment on and off the ice,” Hockey Canada President Katherine Henderson said.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, and Philadelphia Flyers will receive salary cap relief for players on leave due to their involvement in the legal proceedings linked to the 2018 Team Canada scandal.

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