“I was known as ‘broom boy’”: Teen sues Ontario hockey camp, former campers over alleged sexual assault


Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

An Ontario teen and his parents are suing Eagle Crest Resorts, which runs Hockey Opportunity Camp in Sundridge, Ontario, and four former campers over an alleged sexual assault from six years ago involving a “broom handle.”

Global News has agreed to protect the identities of the teenager and his family, who spoke about the allegations on condition of anonymity.

“I was looking for my friends and I went to go into one of the other cabins to see if they were there, when there was someone at the door saying that if I wanted to come in, I had to get initiated,” said the the teen, who was 12 years old at the time.

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“When I came in, they kind of just all grabbed me, threw me on the ground and held me down. They assaulted me with a broom, and I really couldn’t do much to stop it. I was able to get away and it was very traumatizing,” he said.

“I was being held down, my arms and legs, as some kid with a broom tried to put it in me from behind,” he added.

The teen said he recalled then being put in a room by the staff “in a circle” with the campers who had allegedly been involved with the incident.

“I remember that was one of the hardest parts. Being there with the kids that did it to me, having to talk about it in front of them… they wrote down all our names and had us go in a circle and say everything that happened. And it was it was really, really, really hard just because I was there in the room with all the other kids,” he said.

On the following day, ahead of the scheduled time for parents to pick up their children, the teen said the “head of the camp” advised the campers that their parents had been informed about the incident.

“He lined us all up cross-legged and basically told us that he had informed our parents and there was no need or reason to tell them,” he said.

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The teen said the impact of the alleged assault has been long lasting and life altering.

“When I had told some kids at school what had happened they told everybody and I was known as the ‘broom boy’ and it basically just stuck to me. And it just made my middle school and high school hell because everyone knew me as ‘broom boy’ and it just was like glue and everything else just stuck on and I was really bullied intensely,” he said.

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His parents said they never received a phone call from the camp and only learned what had allegedly occurred after prying open their son for information.

“We asked him how the week went. There was a reaction from him and a friend that we knew immediately something had happened. Raised a red flag, an enormous red flag,” said the teen’s father.

“We arrived at the camp and you expect to see your kid and them be happy and joyful. They’ve just had a great week with their friends and we arrived and that was not what we saw,” added the teen’s mother. My husband spoke to our son and asked him, ‘Would you come back?’ And he said, ‘No.’ And when we pressed him why he wouldn’t come back, he told us he wasn’t allowed to tell us. He couldn’t tell us. So we insisted that he tell us what had happened. And it was then that we found out that he had been held down and assaulted by a group of boys with a broom.”

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The couple said they demanded to speak to the camp owner and promptly contacted the police.

“The one thing you look for when you leave your children in the hands of others is that they’re going to be safe, that you trust they are going to treat your child how you would treat someone else’s child in your care. And if anything happens, that you would be notified immediately. We weren’t notified. The police were not called,” said the teen’s father.

“Not only does he get assaulted at that camp, but then the ownership of that camp makes a decision not to call me. He makes the decision not to contact the police. He makes the decision to put those boys who assaulted my son and other kids in a room together to talk about the assault. He makes the decision to tell my son and the other kids that it’s been dealt with and not to talk about it with their parents. What is wrong with this culture? What is wrong with a human being who can do that to a young 12-year-old child?” cried the teen’s mother.

Their lawyer, Justin Linden, said he expects a court will find the camp “failed this child, failed other children that were victimized that day and failed their families.

“They’ve been sued because their one job was to keep this child safe and they completely failed… what should have happened is there should have been immediate notification. They should have called this precisely what it was, and they should have done something about it right there and then,” said Linden.

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The teen’s parents said they were contacted by police six months after their initial call and were advised that criminal charges would not be laid.

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“They indicated that everything that our son had told them had been substantiated, however because the boys who had done the assaults were 11 and 12 years of age, they were not in a position to criminally charge them,” said the mother.

“Part of the problem in these cases, these hockey sexual violence cases, is that the police didn’t lay charges and when charges aren’t laid, even if the boys are younger, this stuff is just allowed to go on,” said Linden, adding “We step in with a civil claim to bring accountability, but the first line of defense against these things happening is the criminal process. And it seems to us there’s very clear evidence of criminal conduct with respect to the boys that did this, and in our view they should have been charged.”

“There has to be some accountability for this. The old school playbook of deny, divert and discredit has to be tossed out because there has to be accountability when young children’s lives are at stake” said the father. “I think this culture of silence eventually creates a deafening scream that you can’t ignore. And that scream is getting louder and louder. Enough is enough. Our children deserve better.”

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“I have struggled with the fact that we haven’t spoken out yet about this because I think we have a responsibility to all the other children that are out there, to all the other little hockey players that are out there,” said the teen’s mother, adding “I think we have a responsibility to stand up and say this is not right. We have a responsibility not to be silent.”

Global News reached out to the lawyers for the camp and the four boys for comment. The lawyer for the boys indicated he would be submitting a request for a publication ban.

In both statements of defence, all of the allegations are denied.

Eagle Crest Resorts described an incident “in the afternoon of August 12th, 2016” in its statement of defence, when “a counselor heard some noise coming from cabin “X” (cabin number deliberately withheld for privacy purposes), and suspected some ‘horseplay ‘.”

The statement added, the counselors learned “Campers were gently struck/poked with a broom” and that defendants “specifically deny that at any material time the broom had penetrated the anus of any of the Campers as now alleged.”

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The camp did not contact parents right away because it was the last night of camp and “the involved Campers expressed that they were okay and unharmed.”

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The camp said it did discuss the matter with the parents of the four boys the next day but did not have the opportunity to discuss with the alleged victim’s parents because they picked up their son later at another location.

The statement of defense also states the police were not notified because the defendants “did not believe any of the Campers perceived the incident as a sexual assault, nor a physical assault.”

No charges were laid against Hockey Opportunity Camp, its owners or employees.

“I’m really sad that my son had to be the one who had to speak up, but I am so in awe of his courage because it’s only when we are vocal, when we say it’s not okay, it’s only then that we can have changed,” said the alleged victim’s mother.

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