THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Two former University of Ottawa hockey players have been found not guilty of sexual assault in a case that led the school to fire the team's then-coach and suspend its men's varsity program for two years.
A Thunder Bay, Ont., judge says that while Guillaume Donovan, 27, and David Foucher, 28, were by no means gentlemen during their encounter with the complainant in February 2014, she has no reason to question their testimony.
Justice Chantal Brochu says there were, however, discrepancies on several points between the complainant's account to police and her testimony before the court.
The two men were on a road trip with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees hockey team when they encountered the complainant, who was 21 at the time. They were charged with sexual assault and pleaded not guilty.
The university suspended its men's varsity hockey program in 2014 after carrying out an internal investigation into allegations against team members. The two players were charged months later. The hockey program was eventually put on hold through 2015-16.
The results of the internal investigation were not made public but also prompted the university to fire the team's head coach, Real Paiement. The university said at the time that the coach was not involved in the misconduct but should have notified authorities about the allegations. The school also said after the investigation that it would implement new behaviour guidelines.
During the trial, which took place in Thunder Bay this winter, court heard from several witnesses, including the complainant, two other former players and the former head coach.
Court heard the complainant connected with a member of the Ottawa team through a dating app and met up with him at a local bar before accompanying him to a hotel, where they had consensual sex.
The complainant testified that at that time, she noticed Donovan and Foucher were in the room and the pair began to perform sexual acts on her without her consent. She told the court she felt helpless and scared.
Donovan testified that his teammate was in the room but said the woman consented to sexual activity.
Court heard that the day after the encounter, Foucher told the team's head coach he did not remember the night's events. But in his testimony, he recalled being inside the room and said he did not touch the complainant.
Paiement, meanwhile, testified Donovan had told him it was a consensual threesome between the player, a teammate and the complainant.
(TBNewsWatch, with files from The Canadian Press)
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly said the university suspended the varsity hockey program after charges were laid against the players. In fact, the program was suspended after an internal investigation.