Hockey Canada says members of its 2003 men's world junior hockey championship team is being investigated for a group sexual assault. Hockey Canada logo at an event in Toronto on November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Canada’s 2003 world hockey junior team also accused of group sexual assault

2nd allegation of sexual assault involving Hockey Canada to become public in a span of two months

Canada’s men’s world junior hockey team is facing another allegation of group sexual assault, this time involving members of its 2003 roster.

Hockey Canada said in a statement on Friday that it learned of the alleged incident after being contacted by TSN seeking comment on the alleged assault. It’s the second allegation of sexual assault involving Canada’s world junior hockey team to become public in a span of two months.

The national sports body said that following the reporter’s email it immediately contacted Sport Canada as well as Halifax Regional Police about the allegations. Halifax was the co-host city of the 2003 world junior hockey championship.

“Hockey Canada is committed to bringing an end to the culture of silence in hockey,” reads the organization’s statement. “That is why we are publicly calling for anyone with knowledge of this incident to come forward to police, and we are being transparent in how we learned of this alleged assault and the steps we are taking to address it.”

Hockey Canada said in its statement that two weeks ago members of its staff heard a rumour about “something bad at the 2003 world juniors” but were not able to get any details until it was contacted by TSN on Thursday.

Halifax Regional Police and Sport Canada did not immediately return requests for comment from The Canadian Press. According to Hockey Canada, Conservative MP John Nater also had the details of the historic allegations. He was also not immediately available for comment.

“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,” said Hockey Canada’s statement. “Hockey Canada will co-operate 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.”

Canada lost to Russia 3-2 in the 2003 final of the world junior hockey championship. Twenty-one players from Canada’s roster at that tournament went on to play in the NHL.

Hockey Canada has already had funding from the federal government and corporate sponsors paused following allegations of a sexual assault involving eight members of the 2018 men’s junior hockey team. Those allegations came to light after it was reported by media that Hockey Canada paid out an undisclosed settlement to the alleged victim after she sued the organization, the Canadian Hockey League, and the eight unnamed players.

The woman was seeking $3.55 million.

The Canadian Press reported on Monday that Hockey Canada has maintained a fund that draws on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. Hockey Canada confirmed on Tuesday that fund exists but it would no longer be used to pay out claims over sexual assault allegations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that there needs to be a “real reckoning” at Hockey Canada as the organization continues to deal with the fallout related to its handling of the alleged sexual assault in June 2018 and out-of-court settlement.

The standing committee on Canadian Heritage is scheduled to continue its examination of Hockey Canada’s handling of the 2018 allegations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge is set to testify along with a Sport Canada official on Tuesday. Hockey Canada said it told Sport Canada about the 2018 allegations at the time, but St-Onge was not yet in the sport minister position and only learned about it when the story originally broke in May.

Glen McCurdie, Hockey Canada’s former vice-president of insurance and risk assessment, is scheduled to testify on Wednesday. It was his sworn affidavit in an unrelated lawsuit that revealed the existence of the fund that, among other things, covered claims regarding sexual misconduct.

—John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rips Hockey Canada leadership over sex assault fund

RELATED: Hockey Canada reopening investigation into alleged 2018 sexual assault

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