The lawyer for a Calgary man charged with beating a university professor with a broomstick says violence is completely out of character for his client, while one of Matthew Brown's former hockey team managers says he's "flabbergasted."
Brown, a former hockey star at Mount Royal University in Calgary, is facing a handful of charges: two counts of break and enter, assault with a weapon, mischief and committing an indecent act in public.
Brown, 26, was charged after a naked man broke into a home in the community of Springbank Hill in southwest Calgary on Jan. 13 and woke an MRU professor from a deep sleep, attacking her and leaving her with a broken hand that requires surgery as well as torn tendons and severe bruising.
CBC News has agreed not to name the victim, who is in her mid-60s and fears for her safety.
Brown's defence lawyer, Sean Fagan, said he could not comment on the specifics of the alleged incident as he is still waiting for disclosure evidence from the prosecutor.
"What we do know is that the police were suspecting drug use. And Matt has no history of drug use. He was tested regularly through Mount Royal hockey," Fagan said.
"It's a bit of a surprise to everybody what is alleged to have happened."
Brown, who is originally from Truro, N.S., has no criminal record. "Never so much as a noise complaint," Fagan said, also pointing to Brown's accolades such as making the dean's list on multiple occasions.
"He is quite literally the poster child for Mount Royal University."
Former hockey GM 'flabbergasted' to hear of charges
Brown played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and British Columbia Hockey League before he went on to become the captain of the MRU varsity hockey team for three consecutive years.
At the end of last season, he moved down to Colorado to play for the Colorado Eagles, an affiliate team of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.
Brown was then traded to the Wichita Thunder but moved instead to another team before training camp, according to a spokesperson for the Thunder.
Brown was rostered to the Lacombe Generals, a senior AAA team, at the beginning of this season before he quit the team in mid-October to complete his courses at MRU, according to the Generals' general manager Jeff McInnis.
McInnis said he was "flabbergasted" when he heard about the charges.
"Our whole fraternity is just flipped over thinking, 'Well, this just doesn't make sense,'" McInnis told CBC News.
"Everyone has always spoken very highly of him."
Brown's future at the school hangs in the air
Brown is no longer a member of the hockey program at MRU but he was still studying business administration there before the school announced over the weekend that Brown was suspended and not permitted on campus until further notice.
"Our first and foremost concern is for the well-being of the victim, who was injured and is now recuperating. The university has been in touch with the individual to offer support and best wishes for recovery," the statement read.
A Mount Royal spokesperson would not confirm whether or not there will be a student hearing for Brown but directed CBC News instead to the student conduct guide. But Fagan said his client did have plans to contest the suspension.
"He's in the last semester before he graduates," Fagan said.
"He's benefited from the presumption of innocence with regards to the court system, I hope Mount Royal extends him the same courtesy."
Professor awoke to an explosion of glass
The professor woke from a deep sleep after what sounded like an explosion, which was her glass door being smashed. She got up to investigate and was immediately attacked by a naked man who hit her repeatedly with a broom handle.
She was able to lock herself in the bathroom and then fled to a neighbour's house where they let her in and called 911.
Her family says the suspect had been at a nearby party.
The family says they've been told police believe the attacker may have been on drugs at the time.
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