Editor's Note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers. If you or someone you know is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references for survivors and their loved ones can be found here.
Victor Mete, an Ottawa Senators defenceman and member of the 2017-18 Canadian world junior team, released a statement on Thursday saying he was not present at the June 2018 Hockey Canada gala that is now the focus of sexual assault allegations that were made public last month.
"I believe it is important for me to state that I was not present at the gala event celebration when this appalling event occurred," wrote Mete, who said he was vacationing in Jamaica with family and friends at the time and "only learned of the situation recently through media reports."
Mete's agent Darren Ferris had previously said his client was in Jamaica in a statement given to Hockey Unfiltered's Ken Campbell last month.
On April 20, a woman filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and eight unnamed CHL players — including members of the 2017-18 Canadian world junior team, of which Mete was a part. In the suit, the woman says she was sexually assaulted by the players in a London, Ont., hotel room following a Hockey Canada gala event at which the world junior team was honoured.
“I am deeply troubled by reports of this incident and should my help be requested by those investigating this matter, I will fully cooperate in any way I can,” wrote Mete, who was under contract with the Montreal Canadiens at the time and is also a former member of the OHL’s London Knights.
Here is my statement regarding the ongoing Hockey Canada investigation: pic.twitter.com/bE3WnuxyLU— vmete98 (@vmete98) June 30, 2022
Hockey Canada settled the lawsuit in May, after which the allegations were brought to light as first reported by TSN. The organization has been in the spotlight ever since for its handling of the allegations and lawsuit, with the federal government pushing for more information including whether Hockey Canada used any public funds in the settlement. Several major corporate sponsors have pulled or paused funding for the upcoming men’s world juniors scheduled for this August and the federal government has frozen its funding of Hockey Canada until two conditions are met.
During last week’s Hockey Canada hearing in Ottawa, outgoing Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and president and COO Scott Smith told members of parliament they hired a law firm as third-party investigators when they were made aware of the allegations in 2018, but that not all members of the world junior team took part in the investigation, which was ultimately left incomplete.
Mete is the first member of the world junior team to release this kind of personal written statement via Twitter. The agent for Sharks forward Jonah Gadjovich told San Jose Hockey Now via a statement in late May that his client was “not involved in the incident.” Cale Makar, when asked about the allegations during a media availability, told reporters he had no involvement, and that he was interviewed by Hockey Canada’s third-party investigators following the allegations in 2018. Makar said he has been contacted by the NHL regarding the league’s newly launched investigation and will “be very cooperative.”