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Okanagan hockey team investigating claims of cyber bullying and hazing

Hazing allegations levelled

An upstart Okanagan hockey program is coming under fire by a parent who claims allegations of hazing and cyber bullying within the program are being dismissed.

James Kellett levelled those accusations against Okanagan HC which operates three teams (U18, U15 and U14) within the new Junior Prospect Hockey League.

The accusations are at this point unproven, but have triggered a public statement and investigation from the league.

Accusations include hazing, what Kellett termed sexual misconduct involving cyber bullying and other off ice infractions involving the organization. Many came about during a road trip from Sept. 20 to 25 in Edmonton

He says his son, who has since been pulled out of the program and has registered with a team in a league sanctioned by BC Hockey outside the Okanagan.

"My son was pulled into a room after my ex-wife filed a complaint about the hazing that happened on a road trip...and told not to tell his parents about team issues, and he needs to come to the coach," Kellett told Castanet News.

"I don't want to be the whistle blower but, at the same time, I'm sick of what I've seen in the West Kelowna hockey community. It needs reform and this is a prime example of it."

Rod Hume, who runs the Okanagan HC program for the company that also owns the BCHL's West Kelowna Warriors, says claims the program did not attempt to address the allegations are not true.

"We had a meeting set up for last Thursday, and he decided to pull his son out of the program the previous Monday," said Hume. "I tried to set up two meetings with the player and he didn't show up to those."

He also categorically denied allegations of hazing within the U15 team.

"Those are all false. I think those might be from some other team. There is no hazing going on. One of our assistant coaches is an RCMP officer. There is nothing going on at our facility like that."

He says nobody has provided the program evidence related to the allegations, which makes them hard to investigate, "but we are going to investigate it to the best of our ability."

Hume says the team is conducting an internal investigation into the cyber bullying accusation.

The JPHL is also conducting an investigation according to a statement tweeted Friday.

"We will not sit idle to these concerns and are undertaking a rigorous and detailed investigation," the league said.

"We are trying to follow our code of conduct, but we are not getting any co-operation with proof from the person that is alleging the cyber bullying," Hume said.

Kellett also alleged an internal fight club where he says players are encouraged to box in the dressing room. Video provided shows players wearing hockey gloves and helmets fighting.

Hume says that video involved the U14 team, adding the coach of that program was fired a month ago after the video surfaced.

The Junior Prospect Hockey League is a 10-team league including five teams in Alberta and five in B.C. It is not sanctioned by or affiliated with Hockey BC or Hockey Canada.

Kellett says none of the incidents have been reported to the RCMP.



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