Sexual Assault Case Postponed For OHL Players

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Sexual Assault Case Postponed For OHL Players October 2, 2012 8:56 AM

Sault Ste Marie Ontario – Hockey is religion in the "Soo", its the same in nearly every Canadian town that has a team. Heck, I have been to Junior C games in Canada on a Friday night when there were 2000 people in the stands. It doesnt matter what level of hockey is in your town, people turn out to support it in nearly every instance.

The OHL has some of the best support in the world, and the "Soo" is where that support will be tested. Not fan support this time, but support of three players charged earlier this year with sexual assault.

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Nick Cousins, was scheduled to make a first court appearance Monday, his Greyhounds teammates South Jersey native Mark Petaccio and Phoenix Coyotes draft pick Andrew Fritsch – were supposed to be in court, too.

What happened?

Apparently, all the details are under court order to remain sealed, other than another court date being scheduled for Monday, Nov. 5 at 9 a.m.

There is a gag order on everyone involved with the case. A gag order? Since when are courts, and those persons whithin them, forbidden to release or speak about what is going on with a case?

As of today none of the players have commented on their charges. The accused players, all teenagers, missed the start of training camp to participate in a ten day behavioral wellness program, but each has appeared in the Soo Greyhounds’ first four regular-season games.

People within the community are divided.

There are hockey fans who are willing to overlook the charges until they are resolved, and there are people who believe these players should not be on the ice until the charges are resolved.

There is also a third, yet smaller group within the community, within the legal community that is, that believe these players are receiving preferential treatment because of who they are. One attorney contacted by phone, not involved with the case, stated, "In most circumstances, the accussed would not be receiving this type of treatment. The idea that after a ten day treatment, these young men are deemed to have an understanding and complete grasp of what they are accussed of is offensive to those who have been victims of assault."

While the Canadian Criminal Justice System is much different from the United States system, many have questioned the wisdom of allowing these young men to play while these allegations are pending.

To be fair, these players have not been found guilty of any criminal act.

But as another attorney said, "If a stockbroker were accussed of insider trading, he certainly wouldnt be allowed back at the exchange until he was cleared of those allegations. Not that the charges have anything to do with how these young men play the game, but they look to be directly related to the team mentality. The swiftness in which the charges were originally brought gives rise to serious concern over which these charges now appear to have been put on a slower track."

The alleged incident occurred on a Friday at a central-area residence in the city. The victim reported the alleged incident to police, charges were laid the next day (Saturday) and details were released Sunday by the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service. Each player has been accused of having sexual intercourse with the female.

The timeline in which the original case was brought would suggest the police had strong evidence to charge. The speed in which the courts are now dispensing justice in this matter has not matched that of the charging.

Consistancy? One would think the players, so quickly charged, would appreciate to be cleared just as quickly if that is to be the case.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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