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A ‘living hell’: More disturbing allegations made as QMJHL hazing lawsuit filed

Warning: This story contains sensitive and graphic content that may be disturbing to some readers who have experienced​ ​​​sexual violence or abuse. Discretion is advised.

Five more players have detailed degrading, humiliating and abusive trauma they say they suffered as minors during hazing rituals while in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League between the 1970s and 2000s.

A long-awaited lawsuit, officially filed Tuesday with the Superior Court of Quebec after getting green-lit in April, contains details from five more men in addition to Carl Latulippe, a former Quebec minor hockey star, who went public last year with the alleged abuse he suffered while playing for two teams in the mid-1990s.

Referred to as members A to E, the five players — then rookies — played with various teams during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s and were about 17 years old at the time.

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According to the court filings, the five players allege disturbing sexual and bodily humiliation, as well as emotional and psychological humiliation and distress that left them dealing with decades of unresolved trauma, anger, addiction, alcohol and substance abuse, and significant self-esteem issues.

The class action describes these events as a “living hell” for the players.

Click to play video: 'High school hockey hazing allegations have Manitoba athletic association in uncharted territory'

High school hockey hazing allegations have Manitoba athletic association in uncharted territory

The 58-page legal filing details many alleged disturbing incidents, including various painful and lengthy acts of sodomization while being pinned down by team members, being forced to perform dehumanizing acts in public while naked, enduring painful acts to their genitals causing burns and being forced to swallow items that had been inserted in other players’ anuses.

Several of the former players also struggled to continue on with the sport, their careers, lost productivity and suffered difficulty in their personal relationships.

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Multiple members said they were never able to access the ambition and motivation they had before their time in the QMJHL.

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None of the allegations made in the lawsuit have been proven in court.

In a statement sent to Global this week, the league said it has read the new allegations “with great compassion,” but could not comment on them as the legal process is ongoing.

“At the present time, we are doing everything in our power at the League to properly educate and supervise our players and staff. They know it’s essential to behave properly on and off the ice, and that there’s zero tolerance for any form of abuse,” the statement reads.

The class action’s lawyer, David Stolow, said in an interview with Global it’s important to highlight that while much of the abuse was done by veteran players, who could have been in their early 20s at the time, they too were victims of the same abuse.

The lawsuit details how the league’s coaches, managers and staff were consistently aware of the hazing, often witness to it and even sometimes a willful and colluding audience. It claims they did nothing to stop the assaults.

The document says that during “member E’s” first season, he discussed the abuse with friends on other teams and understood that it was happening and known throughout the league. “While everyone on the team knew about the abuse, no one was talking about it,” the lawsuit claims.

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Stolow emphasized that the goal is to get the league to take accountability.

The case names as defendants the league, its teams, and its umbrella organization — the Canadian Hockey League — and currently seeks $15.65 million in damages, which includes $15 million in punitive damages to be shared by class members. Financial compensation is also sought for every player who suffered moral or financial damages because of the abuse that they experienced as minors while playing in the league.

The action argues that while the defendants “had an obligation to protect the members of the class and look after their well-being, they witnessed the abuse, encouraged it, neglected, tolerated, covered up or ignored it.”

Stolow added that more players have come forward as they see the media coverage and speak to one another.

“Someone who will have spoken with us will encourage someone else. When they’re ready, they reach out,” he said, adding that it’s expected people will come forward in stages.

Last week, Justice Sophie Lavallée rejected the QMJHL’s appeal against the legal action’s authorization, saying it did not meet the strict criteria needed to end the lawsuit.

As for Latulippe — the first plaintiff in the case and former player with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, the Drummondville Voltigeurs and the Beauport Harfangs, who have since become the Quebec City Remparts — he is seeking the remaining $650,000 in damages, including pain, suffering and humiliation, as well as lost productivity and therapy costs.

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Details of the mistreatment Latulippe suffered include allegedly being beaten with bars of soap wrapped in towels and being forced to watch pornography and masturbate on a team bus in the presence of adult coaches.

“He has accepted and continues to accept the sort of tremendous responsibility to advance this case on behalf of everyone like him who has suffered and who has suffered for many years in silence,” Stolow said about his client.

The court filing says the players who decided to join Latulippe on record did it so that “the culture of silence is broken” and so that similar abuse never happens again.

Those covered in the class action are all hockey players who experienced abuse while they were minors and playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 1969 onwards. The league was renamed the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League in 2023 and is one of Canada’s three major junior hockey leagues.

Law firm Kugler Kandestin encourages victims to contact its attorneys to get informed on their rights, adding that all communication with the legal team will be free and confidential.

Support is available for people who have been sexually assaulted or abused. You can access crisis lines and local support services. Visit the Department of Justice’s Victim Services Directory for a list of resources in your area. 

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–with files from The Canadian Press

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