The Manitoba Junior Hockey League has asked a retired Winnipeg police officer to lead a new investigation into allegations of hazing among players in the Neepawa Natives team.
Ron Bell has been appointed to oversee the independent investigation, which the MJHL says will "focus on gathering additional information relevant to the complaint," commissioner Kim Davis announced on Tuesday afternoon.
Bell's investigation will be the second one looking into the same hazing complaints involving the Neepawa Natives.
The first investigation, which was carried out by league officials, resulted in multiple-game suspensions last week for 16 Natives players and two of its coaches, as well as a $5,000 fine for the team.
Water bottles tied to genitals
The parents of a 15-year-old player who came forward with the hazing accusations told CBC News that their son was forced to dance in the team's dressing room and drag around water bottles tied to his genitals.
The Neepawa Natives have lost a media sponsor, traded some players, and an assistant coach was suspended indefinitely in the fallout since the hazing allegedly took place in the last week of September.
On Friday, the MJHL announced that it is reopening its investigation after several players recanted their earlier testimony.
Bell, a detective, had retired from the Winnipeg Police Service within the past year.
Davis said Bell has nearly three decades of experience in law enforcement, along with an extensive hockey background.
Bell's work starts immediately and he is expected to submit a final report to the hockey league in about a month, Davis said.
Football incident under investigation
Meanwhile, Football Manitoba is investigating an alleged hazing incident involving the provincial under-18 team last year.
A video posted on YouTube this week shows a player being wrapped onto a computer chair with plastic, then wheeled around a hotel.
The incident allegedly took place in July 2010, while the team was competing in the Football Canada Cup in Nova Scotia, but it only came to light after the YouTube video was posted.
"I think all the sports are really hyper-aware, really hyper-sensitive to what's going on in regards to hazing," Football Manitoba executive director Rachel Harper told CBC News.
Football Manitoba is investigating the incident, even though no one has officially complained about it, Harper said. The investigation is expected to be complete this week, she added.
The football organization is also drafting an anti-hazing policy. Its board of directors will meet later this month to discuss specifics of the new policy, which would take effect in the next season if approved.
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