Warning: This article mentions sexual assault that may be upsetting to readers.
Former NHL forward Reid Boucher has pled guilty to the sexual assault of a 12-year-old minor, as reported by the Detroit Free Press’ Darcie Moran and TSN’s Rick Westhead on Saturday.
While playing with the United States National Team Development Program in 2011, Boucher forced his then “billet sister” to perform oral sex on him. He allegedly threatened her with video, and then to expose her to others if she spoke out.
Since the non-consensual assault occurred, Boucher’s victim has suffered from the trauma, dealing with eating disorders, self-harm, and substance abuse.
Reid Boucher Guilty of Sexually Assaulting Minor
The Consequences for Boucher
Simply put, there were none. USA Hockey removed Boucher from the billet home. He still played 81 games that season within the program for the USA’s top prospects. Immediately following the assaults, which occurred on multiple occasions, Boucher represented Team USA at the U18 Worlds. For his on-ice performance, Boucher was drafted 99th overall by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils that year.
The next season, Boucher moved to the OHL. He played for the Sarnia Sting and made his professional debut at the AHL level.
He is currently playing in the KHL Lokomotiv Yaroslavl after winning the KHL’s Gagarin Cup last season with Avangard Omsk.
No Jail Time in Plea Deal
Boucher was originally charged with first-degree sexual misconduct against a minor. That could have landed him in prison for up to 25-years. Through his plea deal, however, a judge reduced Boucher’s charges to third-degree criminal sexual assault against a minor.
His guilty plea, however, means Boucher faces no jail time, and will not have a criminal record.
What the Reid Boucher Sexual Assault Charges Mean for the NHL
The NHL has been dealing with an onslaught of issues related to sexual violence this season as stories continue to emerge. The biggest scandal involved the decade-long cover-up of sexual abuse within the Chicago Blackhawks organization related to prospect Kyle Beach. More recently, the controversy surrounding Evander Kane brought up his past, which includes multiple charges for sexual assault and domestic violence. As well, the NHL allowed convicted sexual offender Logan Mailloux to become a first-round draft pick when he was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens this year.
Stories of abuse and assault are nothing new in hockey.
The NHL, following the Chicago Blackhawks inquiry, set up a hotline to report abuse. This was targeted at internal matters, though, not abuse or assault that players and staff commit outside of the workplace.
Still, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman pledged that the league would do better.
Looking at Those Involved
“That is something that we’re going to continue to hammer home,” Bettman said related to creating safe spaces, free of abuse in hockey. “If this horrible situation should serve any constructive purpose, it’s to demonstrate that this will not be tolerated. And if you have a problem in your organization, you better deal with it. And if you’re in a position of authority, you shouldn’t be overlooking it, because there’ll be a consequence to that.”
The last portion of Bettman’s statement raises questions about current New York Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello. He was in charge of the New Jersey Devils’ draft at the time they selected Reid Boucher in 2011.
According to Katie Strang of The Athletic, Lamoriello responded to her question about New Jersey’s knowledge of the situation by stating “Unequivocally, our organization did not know about this incident.”
Following similar denials by the Chicago Blackhawks regarding internal abuse, and the blatant disregard for the action of Mailloux by the Montreal Canadiens, it would seem an investigation is in order.
One thing is for certain, the NHL has a problem with sexual violence, and the league needs to react to better educate current and prospective players.
Embed from Getty Images