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Former QMJHL players plead guilty to sex assault

Puck on ice Puck on ice - The Canadian Press

Quebec City -- Former Victoriaville Tigres players Nicolas Daigle and Massimo Siciliano pleaded guilty to sexual assault on Wednesday afternoon in a Quebec City courtroom, moments before their trial was scheduled to begin.

Daigle and Siciliano sexually assaulted a then-17-year-old female who worked at a hotel where their QMJHL team was staying during the playoffs in June of 2021. Daigle also pleaded guilty to making and distributing a video of the incident.

Daigle and Siciliano, both 21, have been ordered to return to court on Oct. 20 to discuss a sentencing date.

“I hope that the courage of the victim in this case, who came forward to police and was brave enough to be willing to go through a trial, will inspire anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward – no matter how powerful or influential their perpetrator might have been,” crown attorney Michel Berube said in an interview with TSN after Wednesday’s hearing.

“I also hope that anyone who might be tempted to do something like sexual assault will see this case and have a second thought about the consequences.”

Berube said he will be recommending prison time for both Daigle and Siciliano. They face a maximum of 10 years in prison for sexual assault, according to the Canadian criminal code.

Berube wrote in court documents that he had planned to call Tigres general manager Daniel Frechette to testify in the prospective trial, as well as the parents of some Victoriaville players.

Police sergeant Kevin Henry testified during a Sept. 5 court hearing in Quebec Superior Court that the victim in the case first contacted police on June 6, 2021, alleging that she had been assaulted the previous evening. Henry testified that the victim was covered in bruises when she attended the police station.

According to an agreed statement of fact submitted into evidence on Wednesday, Daigle had a conversation on Instagram with the victim and she agreed to go with Daigle to his hotel room. Siciliano was there when she arrived and that she was assaulted by both players, the statement says.

The players’ guilty pleas came a week after judge Thomas Jacques ruled that cell phone videos which were made by the players in the moments following the assault would be admissible during the trial.

When Daigle and Siciliano were arrested on June 8, 2021, police confiscated their cellphones. Henry testified on Sept. 5 that he seized the phones without a warrant because he worried the video of the assault might be posted on social media or that it might be destroyed by the players. Henry testified that while police did not locate the video of the incident on the players’ phones, they interviewed a number of witnesses who had seen it. 

Following their arrest, both players attended training camp and played pre-season games with Victoriaville. When they were charged on Oct. 5, 2021, the QMJHL released a statement saying the league would take 48 hours to decide the players’ on-ice  future. The following day, the league said the players would be suspended indefinitely.