Team remains suspended as Allan Rock releases statement

Guillaume Donovan (left) and David Foucher (right). Photo courtesy of geegees.ca

Thunder Bay police have charged University of Ottawa hockey players Guillaume Donovan, and David Foucher, with sexual assault following a six-month investigation.

In March, it was reported that some members of the team were involved in a sexual assault while the team was in Thunder Bay for  two games in February against the Lakehead University Thunderwolves.

CBC reports that the assault is alleged to have happened at the West Arthur Street hotel on Feb. 2.

The assault wasn’t reported to university administration until Feb. 24, after the hockey season had ended. The team was immediately suspended.

Donovan, 24, and Foucher, 25, are to appear in a Thunder Bay court Sept. 30.

This summer, after an internal investigation, the university extended the team’s suspension to the entire 2014–15 season and fired head coach Réal Paiement. The results of the investigation confirmed that Paiement knew about the alleged assault, but tried to handle it internally. A third party reported it to U of O administration.

The investigation, conducted by independent investigator Steven Gaon, confirmed that while the allegations of excessive drinking and sexual misconduct were an isolated incident, the behaviour of some players was unacceptable and failed to meet university expectations for varsity athletes.

The university declined to comment on the results of their investigation, because they did not want to interfere with the police investigation.

U of O president Allan Rock released a statement Aug. 27 about the university’s decision to uphold the suspension in response to a Globe and Mail editorial that criticized the president’s stance.

Rock wrote that the suspension did not come solely because of the investigation and subsequent charges against the two players, but also in response to recommendations from an independent report.

“We value the discipline and leadership that sports can teach. But when a team’s leadership falters and its behaviour embarrasses the university community, it is time to pause and regroup,” Rock wrote in a letter to the editor.

Recommendations resulting from a review by independent experts Lorne Adams and Manon Vaillancourt will be put in place for all varsity teams and competitive clubs this September, with guidelines for both player and coach behaviour.

In a statement, the U of O confirmed that the team suspension will be upheld, as they intend to rebuild the program with new coaches, improved policies, and behaviour guidelines. The statement reads that the review’s focus “was not on whether a criminal offence had been committed or whether a conviction could be secured.” Instead, the U of O will look at the standards for player behaviour in general.

The decision to uphold the suspension is supported by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

In a statement, the SFUO said they “hope that these structures will help support the team in being active leaders on campus and in their communities when it comes to fighting misogyny and rape culture.”