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Two former members’ sexual assault case ongoing; as other players pursue class-action

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon (left), and former U of O hockey player Andrew Creppin. Photo: Marta Kierkus

The class-action lawsuit filed by  former members of the University of Ottawa’s  men’s hockey team against the university  will be allowed to proceed, ruled Justice Kevin Phillips on July 10, while striking down part of the suit.

The U of O’s men’s hockey team was suspended after reports that members of the team were involved in sexually assaulting a 21-year-old Lakehead University student in February 2014. Two players, David Foucher and Guillaume Donovan, were charged with sexual assault last August. Charges have not been proven in court.

The university’s investigation of the incident also led to the firing of the team’s coach.

The $6 million dollar lawsuit was filed by former player, Andrew Creppin, on behalf of himself and 21 teammates who are not implicated in the alleged sexual assault.

Justice Phillips, of the Ontario Superior Court, found that the claims that the school acted negligently could proceed to trial, finding that the school’s decision to suspend part of the team’s 2013-14 and the entirety of the team’s 2014-15 season fell outside its discretion to manage academic affairs.

“The actions taken by the defendants could… be construed as acts of public discipline meted out as a consequence of an allegation of sexual assault, directed at a group of students known to be uninvolved,” Justice Phillips wrote, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

However, he struck down claims that university president Allan Rock had acted in bad faith or maliciously, or that the university breached its fiduciary duty.

“University President Allan Rock had a legitimate and complex task to perform with respect to managing the fallout from the hockey team’s road trip to Thunder Bay,” Justice Phillips wrote.

In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Creppin’s attorney Lawrence Greenspon said he felt that the core of the lawsuit had gotten through.“It’s an important case to go forward for these innocent young men,” he said.

The university has announced that the hockey team will be reinstated for the 2016-17 season.