Hockey players might sue University of Ottawa over suspension
7 men's varsity hockey players consider launching defamation suit, lawyer says
Seven University of Ottawa hockey players could launch a defamation suit after the men's varsity program was suspended in relation to allegations that some players sexually assaulted a woman during a team trip to Thunder Bay in February.
Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon told CBC Radio's All In A Day that the seven men he represents "were not involved in any way in this alleged incident" but have been labelled rapists, lost sleep and that one player was even prescribed anti-depressants.
"They threw these students under the bus," he said.
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University president Allan Rock announced Wednesday the Gee Gees program, first suspended in March, would not participate in the 2014/15 season after an internal review revealed "the behaviour of some individuals in Thunder Bay on the weekend in question was unacceptable." Head coach Réal Paiement was also fired.
Rock acknowledged that not all players on the team were involved in the alleged incidents, but he said he could not "name names either way" as police continue to investigate. No charges have been laid.
Greenspon said that the reputation of his clients have been tarnished by the university's response to the alleged incident.
"They would go to parties or other social gatherings and people would come up to them and call them rapists," Greenspon said. "They have suffered amazing consequences to this point."
Greenspon said his clients had been expecting the university to apologize and reinstate the program on Wednesday. He pointed out the university does not have a code of conduct, which opens it up to a lawsuit.
While the University of Ottawa does not currently have an "official code of conduct" for student athletes, it does "firmly stress" its expectations of "respect, maturity, dignity" during mandatory orientation sessions, director of corporate communications Patrick Charette told CBC News in an email.
As part of its internal review, the university hired experts to review its policies and procedures. The experts recommended the university "establish guidelines for student athletes on behaviour, alcohol consumption, harassment, social media," Charette said.
"We have accepted the majority of these recommendations and are firmly committed to reviewing our policies on these matters," he said.