In the wake of a scandal that has rocked the world of junior hockey, five former members of the 2018 Canadian world junior team find themselves teetering on the precipice of a legal battle, called upon to report to the London police to answer charges stemming from an alleged group sex assault four years prior. With the spotlight of publicity glaring down, a veteran criminal defence lawyer weighs in on the unfolding drama and the machinations of the legal system that lie ahead for these players.
Nick Cake, a seasoned lawyer whose career has spanned the gamut from prosecuting to defending, offers insight into why the accused weren’t whisked away in handcuffs at the outset. “They’re throwing these guys a bone,” he postulates, recognizing the unique circumstances surrounding figures who command million-dollar contracts. Lawyers for the athletes, Cake surmises, have already been initiating delicate dialogue with law enforcement, probing for terms that might allow their clients to sidestep a stint behind bars pending their hearings.
One critical advantage the accused have in their arsenal is their high visibility. When the public eye is a constant companion, it serves as a form of assurance, a guarantor of one’s presence that diminishes the risk of flight in the eyes of the court. This visibility could potentially sway the scales toward the granting of an undertaking—an official promise laden with conditions, which could allow the accused to remain at liberty for the interim.
Undertakings come with a string of stipulations: abide by a curfew, remain at an agreed address, eschew weapons, cut off contact with co-accused parties, and perhaps even relinquish one’s passport. To refuse the terms of an undertaking could see the matter escalated, catapulting the players into a bail court where a justice of the peace would preside, with attorneys clashing over the conditions of temporary freedom.
As the Canadian hockey community reels amid the allegations and the accused confront their complicated reality, the legal process churns on. The next moves, strategic and calculated, will play out under the scrutiny of a public that keenly watches as these erstwhile sports heroes navigate through the imposing edifice of justice.