THUNDER BAY -- Sexual assault charges have been filed against two former University of Ottawa hockey players in connection with an alleged incident in Thunder Bay earlier this year.
Police allege the assault occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 2 at the Victoria Inn, involving a 21-year-old female victim.
The two men, 24-year-old Guillaume Donovan and 25-year-old David Foucher, both of Gatineau, Que., were charged in Ottawa earlier this week on behalf of Thunder Bay city police.
Thunder Bay Police Service spokesman Chris Adams said the investigation has now been closed.
“There was an extensive review of evidence, consultation with the Crown and of course consideration had to be given to the victim, working very closely with the victim and being respectful of the victim,” Adams said Friday shortly after the charges were announced.
“At the conclusion of all of that came the charges against the two individuals.”
When reports of the incident initially broke at the beginning of March rumours circulated that a large number of players on the team were involved.
That speculation led to the university suspending the men’s hockey program for the upcoming season, as well as the dismissal of head coach Real Paiement.
Adams said the investigation did not support those rumours.
“Terms that were used to reference it as if it involved a large number of people were not correct. The investigation went on independently of any of those opinions and just really dealt with the facts,” he said.
The university said the charges announced don't alter the suspension of the hockey program, or the firing of its head coach.
"That decision followed our review of an independent investigator’s report about the events in Thunder Bay," university spokeswoman Caroline Milliard said in a statement.
"The university's focus was not on whether a criminal offence had been committed or whether a conviction could be secured. The university's focus was on whether the players' behaviour met the standards that the university community is entitled to expect from those who have the privilege of wearing the university's colours."
Foucher served as the team captain of the Gee Gees last season.
Both the Thunder Bay and Ottawa Police Services have been investigating the sexual assault, which allegedly occurred when Ottawa was in Thunder Bay for a regular season series against the Lakehead Thunderwolves. Police say the assault occurred early that Sunday morning, after the two teams played their second and final game of the weekend.
Thunder Bay Police became aware of the incident through a third party complainant on Feb. 25, nearly a month after the alleged assault.
That launched an investigation by both the two police services that also included the criminal investigations branch of the Thunder Bay Police as well as the Ottawa Police’s sexual assault and child abuse section. The Thunder Bay detachment of the RCMP also provided assistance.
Investigators from Thunder Bay travelled to Ottawa in March to interview members of the program.
“An investigation like this has a lot of complexity that you’re dealing with a really high number of potential witnesses who were involved in this hockey trip to Thunder Bay,” Adams said.
“Many spoke to our investigators but a few did not.”
Donovan and Foucher are scheduled to appear in court in Thunder Bay on Sept. 30. Adams said the two were processed by the Ottawa police and then released with an undertaking and a promise to appear.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
(With files from The Canadian Press)