University of Ottawa hockey program stays suspended for 2014-15
Lawyer for some players says defamation lawsuit is a possibility
The suspension of the University of Ottawa's men’s varsity hockey program over allegations of misconduct related to a sexual assault investigation will continue for the 2014-15 season, president Allan Rock announced Wednesday.
- University of Ottawa suspends men's hockey amid police probe
- University of Ottawa begins investigation into hockey program
- University of Ottawa hockey players say school has let them down
Thunder Bay police launched an investigation after receiving a third-party complaint of a sexual assault on the weekend of Feb. 1, when the University of Ottawa Gee Gees were in town to play the Lakehead University Thunderwolves.
Head coach Réal Paiement, who was with the team during the road trip, was initially suspended with pay but has now been "relieved of his duties," Rock said.
Paiement learned of the allegations "hours" after they occurred, and "devised and imposed measures by himself with respect to the team" — but did not inform the university, Rock said.
Paiement previously coached the Acadie-Bathurst Titan junior hockey team in New Brunswick from 2000 to 2004, and again for the 2010-11 season.
No charges have been laid, but Rock said the university is acting on the results of an internal review.
"We suspended the program — not the team," Rock said.
"We know enough to say that what happened there was unacceptable so we're shutting down the program, the coach is being replaced, we're putting new policies and processes in place, and moving forward with a new program."
Review reveals 'unacceptable' behaviour: Rock
An independent investigator was hired to conduct interviews about the events in Thunder Bay, including allegations of excessive drinking and sexual misconduct, Rock said.
The results of that review revealed that "the behaviour of some individuals in Thunder Bay on the weekend in question was unacceptable," Rock said.
"Their behaviour did not meet the university's expectations of our student athletes and was not in keeping with the university community's values," he said.
The final report will not be released, Rock said.
"We want to avoid any interference with the ongoing police investigation and to respect the university's privacy obligations," he said.
The review also included an assessment of the university's policies, practices and procedures regarding sport management, ethics and student disciplinary processes.
The results of that review were made public Wednesday, and all the recommendations will be implemented, including new guidelines for student athletes, Rock said.
The investigation did not involve the Lakehead University Thunderwolves hockey team, police said, and the assault is not alleged to have happened on university property.
Some players may file defamation suit
Rock acknowledged that not all players on the team were involved in the police investigation into the alleged sex assault.
"The shadow cast by the allegations of misconduct has affected all members of the team, some unfairly," he said. "We cannot name names either way for fear of doing greater injustice or running afoul of the law ourselves."
The lawyer for seven players said after Wednesday's announcement they're considering launching a defamation lawsuit.
"Suspend those three guys [allegedly directly involved], let these other innocent guys back on the ice and help restore their reputation," said Lawrence Greenspon.
"I'm talking about guys who have gone to parties and been called rapists. One of them [had] the co-op program he was in tell him not to bother coming back to work anymore, another guy had all kinds of job interviews lined up that were cancelled."