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'It just rips at your stomach': Committee member haunted world junior hockey sex assault case wasn't reviewed

WARNING: This article contains content that may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

Jennifer Dunn says her heart sank when news broke in 2022 about a London, Ont., sexual assault investigation allegedly involving members of Canada's 2018 world junior hockey team — a case that ended with no charges in 2018, but was reopened and only recently led to charges against five players.

"Honestly, we were just as shocked as everybody else. We were not aware of it," Dunn, a member of London's Violence Against Women Advocate Case Review Committee (VACR), told CBC News.

The civilian committee's job is to independently review every case by the London Police Service (LPS) that ends in no charges, ideally within three to four months of it being closed.

However, the committee was newly established and trained, and members were taking a long time to finish reviews — and that backlog along with a break during the COVID-19 pandemic meant it never got to the hockey case, said Dunn and Sunny Marriner, the VACR's national project lead.

The VACR process has been implemented for years by police forces in Canada. In London, the committee began its work in 2018.

'It's absolutely gut wrenching to think that, yeah, what if this file could have come across our desk? We [the committee] could have reviewed it," said Dunn, also executive director of the London Abused Women's Centre.

"We could have seen something, something maybe could have been done differently, and then the whole result could have been different, right? It's hard not to think that," she said.

"It's such a horrible feeling … it just rips at your stomach."

The initial London police investigation began shortly after the June 2018