The North Vancouver RCMP has confirmed they are investigating a report about an alleged assault that was reportedly part of a bullying incident involving teenaged hockey players at the North Shore Winter Club.
Few details about what took place among the young teens at the private members-only club have been made available. A report Thursday in the National Post pointed to an allegation that one member of the Bantam Elite Team was subject to incidents of bullying and/or unwanted or inappropriate touching by other players in the locker room and weight room on Dec. 10.
Cpl. Richard De Jong, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP detachment, said police received details about the alleged incident on Jan. 27 and are investigating. That will involve getting statements from hockey players, coaches, guardians and parents, said De Jong.
De Jong declined to comment on how the RCMP had been advised of the incident or how long the investigation was expected to take. All of those allegedly involved in the incident are minors, he added.
Neither the former coach of the Bantam Elite Team – who the Post reported quit over the club’s handling of the issue – or the coach who took over those duties could be reached for comment Thursday.
The North Shore Winter Club sent out a statement by board president Jay Frezell to members on Wednesday afternoon acknowledging the issue.
“In mid-December a NSWC family reported that they believed their son was targeted by two other players,” read Frezell’s statement. The statement said the family requested that the club not contact authorities.
The club suspended two players immediately then formed a disciplinary committee to investigate the incident, stated Frezell.
“There was a full review and appeal process. The committee concluded there were two incidents of bullying. Suspensions were issued to those involved, and those suspensions have been served.”
The discipline included suspensions, writing apology letters and taking part in an anti-bullying session, according to a statement from the club. According to a timeline sent to the North Shore News by the club’s general manager, Joanna Hayes, the two suspended players were reinstated on their team on Jan. 17 and 27, after an appeal of their suspension was received Jan. 7 and a second committee was formed to deal with the appeal.
“We feel (the players involved) have learned from their actions, understand the harm and we do not expect this to be repeated,” Hayes said in a statement.
“The North Shore Winter Club takes the issues of player safety, bullying and member privacy extremely seriously. The safety and the well-being of our members’ families is always paramount,” the statement continued. The club added coaches communicate to both parents and players that “bullying is in no way an acceptable behaviour.”
Frezell stated the incident has been “a very difficult issue for all involved.” The board of the private club has now appointed a committee to make recommendations about “better and stricter policies and procedures to deal with complaints of this nature moving forward.”
The club declined to comment on the coach’s reasons for resigning.
Keegan Goodrich, manager of communications for BC Hockey, which oversees minor hockey in B.C., said the organization is aware of the allegations but declined to make specific comments on the incident while the RCMP investigation is underway.