Water Polo Canada facing $5.5M lawsuit alleging abuse


Another nationwide sports activities group in Canadais underneath the highlight — 4 former members of the nationwide water polo staff program have filed a $5.5-million lawsuit in opposition to Water Polo Canada, alleging the federation’s prime executives, coaches and assist employees fostered a toxic tradition for greater than a decade.

The lawsuit says the previous gamers have been sexually harassed, threatened, inspired to make racist and homophobic jokes, and warned repeatedly to honour Water Polo Canada’s “circle of trust.”

Water Polo Canada (WPC) is a not-for-profit group primarily based in Ottawa that receives federal authorities funding. It has not responded to a request for remark.

One of the plaintiffs within the lawsuit said that athletes have been made to really feel like they have been“underneath a microscope.

“We have to constantly improve our performance, we’re always critiqued, we’re always criticized,” Katrina Monton advised CTV News.

“And I think it’s time that other stakeholders in the space … look in the mirror and acknowledge their part in the system.”

Monton was a member of Canada’s junior and senior nationwide water polo groups for 14 years, beginning when she was 15. She says a few of WPC’s employees made a aware option to ignore abusive behaviour.

“It’s a privilege to not have had to consider the damage or the things that have been inflicted or done,” she mentioned. “I think it’s a privilege to not have to look back on your own behaviour and adjust it and amend it in any way.”

The lawsuit comprises allegations referencing a string of nationwide staff coaches, together with one who allegedly met athletes in his resort room sporting solely his underwear, and on one other event pressured them into waxing his again and chest hair.

Another coach allegedly threatened athletes, saying he would convey a shotgun or baseball bat to the pool to shoot or beat them in the event that they carried out poorly.

Pat Oaten, who’s now the coach of the lads’ssenior nationwide staff, is alleged within the lawsuit to have brazenly mentioned his intercourse life with ladies’s nationwide staff members.

“We were living in a culture where everything was swept under the rug and ignored,” Steph Valin, one other former staff member and plaintiff within the lawsuit, mentioned. “We have been chess items in a sport and we have been all disposable.

“It was a culture that was wilfully blind.”

A 38-page assertion of declare was filed in Ontario Superior Court on April 29, and was served to WPC on Thursday. The allegations haven’t but been examined in courtroom.

Within the previous few years, quite a few Canadian sports activities federations have been hit with lawsuits and allegations of abuse and rampant misconduct, together with Hockey Canada, Gymnastics Canada, Rowing Canada and Canada Soccer.

This reckoning now seems to have come to the game of water polo.

The 4 former members of Canada’s water polo staff declare the abuse they are saying theysuffered has prompted them to expertise emotional, bodily and psychological hurt, together with nervousness and despair, suicidal ideas and profound points with belief.

“I’ve been dealing with depression, a lot of anxiety — post-traumatic syndrome, that’s the word I need to say out loud— and low self-esteem for my entire life,” Sophie Baron La Salle, advised CTV News. “Because I first started water polo when I was nine and then 14, so I grew up in that environment.”

La Salle alleges within the lawsuit that Oaten as soon as made her sit by way of a observe in a vibrant and loud pool atmosphere regardless of having suffered a latest concussion.

The fourth plaintiff is recognized solely as A.A. in courtroom paperwork. All 4 have been members of the ladies’s junior and senior nationwide groups sooner or later between 2004 and 2016.

The coaches recognized within the lawsuit usually are not listed as defendants, however are recognized as having “fostered a toxic culture at WPC,” the lawsuit states.

Along with Oaten, who was the senior ladies’s nationwide staff coach from 2002 to 2012, coaches Baher El Sakkary, Daniel Berthelette and Guy Baker have been talked about by title.

“Each adult male coach leveraged the power imbalance between themselves and the young women athletes in their care in an attempt to achieve high performance results at the expense of athletes’ physical, psychological, and emotional well-being,” the lawsuit states.

El Sakkary, who coached the ladies’s junior nationwide staff from 2004-2005, allegedly bullied athletes by calling them insulting names and criticizing their look, and would act “sexually inappropriate with athletes,” based on the lawsuit.

Berthelette had beforehand been fired by the group in 2001 after athletes and their mother and father complained about his behaviour, based on the lawsuit, however was re-hired two years later to teach the junior ladies’s staff. In 2007, he was employed to be a technical advisor and assistant coach for the senior ladies’s nationwide staff, the place the plaintiffs encountered him.

He allegedly would inform athletes he wished to sleep with them to “tell if they were lesbians or not,” and would use threats of violence to encourage athletes to carry out, based on the lawsuit.

“To cement his authority and reinforce the athletes’ belief that he would carry out these threats, Dan told the team graphic stories about his past violence and his affiliations with the mafia, Hell’s Angels, and dangerous gangster friends,” the lawsuit said, including that he was requested to depart WPC in 2011.

The lawsuit additionally outlines critiques of some nationwide staff assist employees. Valin allegedly went to WPC assist employees member Daniele Sauvageau in 2013 about Guy Baker’s bullying and outbursts, expressing her concern of working with him.

“Daniele did not intervene to protect Steph, nor did she connect Steph to psychological support to address Steph’s desire to be harmed,” the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs are asking for $1 million for basic and aggravated damages for breach of fiduciary responsibility, breach of contract and vicarious legal responsibility for bodily, psychological and emotional abuse, and sexual harassment. They have additionally requested for $4 million in relation to previous and future financial losses suffered on account of Water Polo Canada’s alleged failure to guard them, and $500,000 in punitive damages.

In the 2021-22 season, Water Polo Canada acquired $2.2 million from Sport Canada, based on authorities information, whereas its carded athletes acquired round $634,000.

Water Polo Canada has not responded to CTV News’s request for remark. The lawsuit says that although mother and father complained in regards to the coaches’ behaviour and submitted complaints to the group, nothing modified.  


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