The University of Calgary is conducting a review after learning that one of its students has been convicted of a sex crime against a 13-year-old girl.
Former junior hockey player Connor Neurauter, 21, pleaded guilty to sexual interference of the girl last week in Kamloops. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but will not start that sentence until May 4 because the court agreed not to interfere with his school semester at the U of C. VICE published a story about Neurauter Monday, which garnered considerable outrage; a petition calling for him to be expelled from the school was launched online and has gained more than 11,000 signatures.
In a statement sent to VICE Tuesday, the U of C said it recently became aware of Neurauter’s conviction and is now “reviewing the situation.”
“We can confirm that Mr. Neurauter is not on the university campus this week. We will provide further information when it is available,” the statement says. It goes on to say the university is “committed to providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for our campus community” and has policies in place to ensure that will happen.
Neurauter pleaded guilty to soliciting nude photos of the 13-year-old girl and later threatening her with them in order to force her to keep their relationship a secret, according to Kamloops This Week. He was originally additionally charged with one count of child pornography possession. She also told police that he choked her with his hands and before he gifted her a bra.
The girl’s mother told the Calgary Sun she was frustrated at the way the court consistently accommodated Neurauter’s hockey and school schedules.
“‘Sorry, he’s unavailable for court because he has a hockey tournament. He’s unavailable for court because he has exams. He’s unavailable to come do his plea on his own because he’s in the middle of studying,’” she said.
After VICE published a story on Neurauter, he either removed or hid his Facebook profile. While his Twitter account hasn’t been active since 2016, a number of his old tweets appear to make sexist and racist comments.
Robert Mazzuca, commissioner of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, told VICE Neurauter played a couple games in his league prior to being charged. At the time he was charged, Mazzuca said Neurauter was playing for a BC team.
He said he was appalled to hear Neurauter’s sentence and court dates were pushed off due to hockey and school.
“To me that’s an excuse more than anything,” he said. “It’s disappointing and shocking to say the least.”
In the NOJHL, Mazzuca said any player charged with a sexual offence would be asked to remove himself from the league until the matter is resolved. If convicted, he said the player would be removed from the league. He also said the social media feeds of players in his league are monitored for “derogatory” comments.
In September, VICE reported on law students at the University of Ottawa who wanted to see an incoming student who pleaded guilty to assault banned from the school. At that time, the University of Ottawa declined to comment on the case.
During sentencing, Barrons' lawyer argued prison time would prevent him from going to law school. His sentencing decision notes that he is a "model citizen" and that law school will be an "ideal forum for requiring Mr. Barrons, as a condition of his probation, to provide educational sessions for the community about his offence, his experience with the criminal justice system, and the principles and goals of sentencing."
Last month, Newfoundland man Lancelot Saunders was given an absolute discharge after attacking his ex-girlfriend because the judge was worried that a conviction would ruin his chances of getting into university. Though the judge said the case was a one-off, Saunders later seemed to be gloating at the outcome on his Instagram feed and claimed his ex “wanted attention.”
Women’s advocates say cases like these show that the justice system continues to prioritize the futures of offenders over victims’ trauma.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.