Cynthia Mulligan Interviews Alex Karapancev On The Hockey Canada Sexual Assault Case
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (00:00):
Let’s delve more into the woman at the heart of this case and the reported charges. We’re joined now by Alexander Karapancev, a defense attorney in Toronto. Thank you for speaking with us today.
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (00:12):
Thank you for having me.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (00:13):
Alexander, initially, police in London said they did not have sufficient evidence to press charges here. Can you talk to us more about what kind of documents or evidence they need before they would lay charges?
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (00:26):
Yes. In every criminal case, the police need to investigate the circumstances of the allegation and determine whether or not they have reasonable and probable grounds to lay criminal charges. What this means is police oftentimes in cases like this, will interview the complainant, will hear their story and learn what their allegations are and the criminal conduct they’re complaining of. Oftentimes, that is enough to lay sexual assault charges, and we see this happen all the time throughout Ontario and Canada.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (01:00):
What does it tell you that initially police said that they didn’t have enough evidence, and then once this hit the media, then they reinvestigated it and said they did.
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (01:10):
It tells me one of two things. Number one, that the complainant did not come forth to provide a police statement originally. I know there were media reports circulated that suggested this. In a case like this, without one there often aren’t reasonable and probable grounds to continue with a criminal investigation. That may have changed after the news broke. The complainant may have provided a statement to the police, which led them to further investigate. I’m aware that in this case, the police sought judicial authorizations as well for search warrants and production orders. This leads me to believe that they were seeking to gather documentary evidence related to these allegations as well.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (01:53):
Okay. Now part of this case involves a woman going back to a hotel room with one hockey player, and then she alleges others were joining them, which she did not want, and she was allegedly recorded. In fact, the lawyers for some of the defendants showed recordings to the media and she’s recorded as saying, “are you okay? Do you consent to this?” And she said yes. But she’s later said to a media outlet that she felt intimidated and that she had to say that, what do you make of all of this?
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (02:27):
This is going to be a difficult case. It’ll be a difficult case for the crown to try in court because they’re going to have to persuade a jury or a judge that she didn’t mean the words that she uttered in that video. It’ll be a difficult case for the woman, the complainant in this case, because she’s going to have to answer pointed questions about why she said what she did on that video, why she went to the hotel room in question, and what her intentions were that evening.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (02:53):
We know it’s very difficult for women to come forward in these types of situations, and it’s tougher very often for them in the courts and to get a conviction. Where do you see all of this going? Could the charges be resolved before it makes it to court? What do you anticipate could happen next? I know I’m asking you to look into a crystal ball.
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (03:17):
We need to understand that there are two standards at play here. There’s the reasonable and probable ground standard that the police have to have to lay criminal charges. It appears that they’ve met that standard because they’ve asked these five men to come and surrender. The crown attorney will now have to assess their standard, which is whether or not there’s a reasonable prospect of conviction in this case, and that requires an analysis of all the evidence as well as consideration of whether or not it’s in the public’s interest to proceed.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (03:47):
Now, initially the alleged victim was seeking more than $3 million in damages from Hockey Canada and settled for an undisclosed amount. Does this happen often and will this impact the case going forward?
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (04:01):
This actually doesn’t happen that often in sexual assault prosecutions. In my experience, most of these cases begin with a criminal complaint and without the complainant seeking a civil proceeding against the defendant as well. At the same time, what makes this case a little different is that the complainant in this case settled a civil complaint with Hockey Canada for an undisclosed sum. That’s going to be a relevant issue in this criminal case as I suspect defense lawyers for these accused persons are going to use that when they defend their clients and cross-examine this complainant as to her motives for making these allegations.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (04:43):
It’s going to be a very difficult time for her if this goes to court. I mean it, it’s really tough and very often the complainant gets, let’s face it, ripped to shreds on the stand.
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (04:55):
Yes, it’s going to be a very difficult situation for her. I suspect that may be why she initially proceeded with a civil proceeding, and that’s because the standard of proof and civil court is simply a balance of probabilities, whether or not it’s more likely than not that the allegation occurred compared to the criminal standard of proof where the crown needs to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. That can be very difficult in a case where there are no supporting witnesses and no confirmatory or corroborating evidence. Essentially, it’s going to be her word against these five players.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (05:31):
Such a difficult situation because then many women who do have the courage to come forward face such a difficult time on the stand and then perhaps very few end in convictions. So it’s just no wonder so many women do not come forward.
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (05:49):
That is a commentary that we hear about these issues in these cases, and many parties in the criminal justice system talk about ways to better the system so that all parties involved can feel like they’re being fairly looked after.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (06:06):
Alexander, thank you very much for speaking with us today.
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (06:10):
It was my pleasure. Thank you.
Cynthia Mulligan – CityNews (06:11):
And that is Alexander Karapancev, defense attorney in Toronto. Thank you again.
Alexander Karapancev – Criminal Defence Lawyer (06:17):