Police Chief Blames Music Videos for Sexual Violence at Hockey Gang Rape Presser

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London, Ontario’s police chief blamed music videos and magazine shoots for a culture of sexual violence against women during a press conference about gang rape allegations against five former Canadian junior hockey players. 

Chief Thai Truong made the speech while answering reporter’s questions about why London police took six years to charge the five players, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames, Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, for Alex Formenton, a former NHL player who now plays in Switzerland.All of the players have been charged with one count of sexual assault while also McLeod faces one count of being party to a sexual assault, which police said is laid when someone is accused of helping someone else commit an offence. 

All of the NHLers have been granted indefinite leave by their clubs and are still being paid. 

The alleged assault took place in London in June 2018, when the players were celebrating their gold medal world junior hockey championship win at a Hockey Canada fundraiser. However, police closed the investigation without pressing charges in 2019. They reviewed and re-opened the case in July 2022, after public outrage sparked by Hockey Canada (the national governing body for hockey in Canada) settling a $3.5 million lawsuit filed by the alleged victim against eight hockey players. 

Truong and Det. Sgt. Katherine Dann avoided giving any details as to why London police initially closed the investigation in 2019 or any investigative missteps police may have taken, repeatedly saying that providing that information could compromise the prosecution. 

However, Truong made a spiel about the media’s contributions to a societal culture of sexual violence. 

“I do want to highlight that how we portray young women and girls on TV, in music videos, how we write about them, magazine shoots, all that contribute to sexual violence and the normalization of what we’re seeing,” he said. 

When asked by a reporter if police taking six years to file charges also contributes to that culture, Truong said that was “a fair question.” 

“It’s not something as the chief of police that I'm happy about, that it took six years,” Truong said. 

He apologized to the victim and her family “for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point.” 

However Truong denied that his police force should turn the case over and said he has the “utmost confidence” in his investigators. 

“The investigation was reviewed in 2022 and because of that review we are here today,” he said. 

According to Dann, the victim met the players at a bar in downtown London on June 18, 2018 and later went back to the Delta London Armouries Hotel with one of the players. The other four players then went to the hotel and they sexually assaulted the victim, Dann said. 

In the lawsuit filed by the alleged victim, who is known as E.M., she said she had sex with the player she went back to the hotel with, but that he later allowed seven other players in the room without her consent.

Then, she alleged the players vaginally penetrated her, made her perform oral sex on them, rubbed their genitals on her face, slapped, spat, and ejaculated on her, all while she was too intoxicated to consent, as reported by TSN. 

She said they wouldn’t let her leave when she tried, continued sexually assaulting her, and later pressured her not to report the alleged assault to police. 

When asked about the remaining three players referenced in the lawsuit, Dann said there was enough evidence to lay charges against five. 

After the Hockey Canada settlement went public, the Globe and Mail reported that Hockey Canada had at least two funds used to settle sexual assault lawsuits. 

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