Ontario mom: Ex-NHL player Reid Boucher should not have lived in my home with my daughter

Detroit Free Press

An Ontario mother is calling for change after learning she housed ex-NHL player Reid Boucher as a junior hockey player just months after, by his own admission in a 2021 criminal case, he sexually assaulted a girl in 2011, when she was 12 and he was 17.

Sherri Boyd, 54, had her own 11-year-old daughter in the house when her family chose in fall 2011 to serve as a billet — or host — family to the then-Sarnia Sting hockey player, she said. He then stayed with them for two seasons.

And Free Press reporting has shown that USA Hockey — where Boucher played in its development program before he was drafted by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and spent time in the junior Ontario Hockey League in Sarnia — had at least enough knowledge of an incident with the 12-year-old in the criminal case to remove Boucher from his Ann Arbor billet home by mid-March 2011.

Boyd believes USA Hockey should have alerted the Sarnia Sting.

Her family wouldn’t have hosted him if they had known of any sort of concern, she said, and she’s speaking out because she doesn’t want other families to go through this.

“The outcome for his victim could have happened to my daughter,” Boyd said, later adding: “He’s guilty or innocent, no matter what he was (deemed to be at the time) — this happened involving a 12-year-old girl, so he should never go into a house with a 12-year-old girl.”

USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer has previously said of the criminal case that the program only received information from the 12-year-old’s school that she was telling friends she had a boyfriend on the team, that nothing involving sexual assault was raised, and that nothing was found, but Boucher was removed proactively. The girl in the criminal case, now a 23-year-old woman who came forward last year, has said she denied anything happened with Boucher when questioned back then as an embarrassed preteen but thinks USA Hockey and Ann Arbor Public Schools should have called police. The Ann Arbor school district has declined to comment.

More: Ex-NHL player from Michigan gets deal in sex assault case — and survivor is ‘disgusted’

More: What a police report shows USA Hockey knew about ex-NHL player’s sex assault case

Asked about USA Hockey giving the NHL, the Devils, or the Sting the information it did have, Fischer in an email Monday said, “As you know, USA Hockey had no information of any improper behavior prior to being contacted by the Ann Arbor police in 2021, so we wouldn’t have had anything to share with other parties.”

But Boyd is calling for a protocol in which USA Hockey shares details when any kind of concerns are raised. And the 23-year-old Ypsilanti woman at the center of the criminal case in Ann Arbor tends to agree.

“It sounds like nothing happened, which — thank god,” the 23-year-old said of the Sarnia Sting billet situation. “But there was definitely a huge risk putting him into a house with another young girl.”

2011

In December 2021, Boucher got a deal and pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving sexual penetration with an individual between the ages of 13 and 16. The hockey player, who most recently was under contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the international Kontinental Hockey League, is set for sentencing Jan. 31.

Pamella Szydlak, attorney for Boucher, declined in an email to comment on Boyd’s concerns as they related to USA Hockey. Szydlak has stood by the resolution in the court case and noted the time that has passed.

The woman in the criminal case has told the Free Press that Boucher twice coerced her into the use of her mouth for oral sexual assaults in early 2011.

She said she told friends. An Ann Arbor Police Department report shows a witness told police in 2021 that she told her stepfather and that he called a USA Hockey coach, counter to USA Hockey’s description of events.

The Free Press broke the story in January and, as other news organizations began to pick it up, a neighbor texted it to Boyd.

“I was numb and beyond shocked,” Boyd said. “My first thought was my daughter. Like,  how could this have happened? And is she OK?”

Boyd said her daughter is, indeed, OK, but she’s concerned how the placement could have even happened.

Lou Lamoriello, who was general manager of the New Jersey Devils when Boucher was drafted within the months of being removed from the Ann Arbor billet home, told The Athletic that his organization had no knowledge of the sexual assault and would not have selected him if  it were aware.

Lamoriello is currently the general manager of the New York Islanders and  the team’s communications director this week pointed to Lamoriello’s prior comments.

Mark Glavin, assistant general manager for the Sting, confirmed in an email that Boyd hosted Boucher during the player’s time with the program. He declined to comment further except to point to Sting President Bill Abercrombie’s comments to The Sarnia Observer.

Abercrombie told the Observer he wants answers for why USA Hockey didn’t share any suspicions.

“We’re certainly going to be looking into why it was kept quiet from everybody,” he said, according to The Sarnia Observer.

Boyd said her husband had wanted to billet for a while and in October 2011, when ads on the radio alerted the family that homes were still needed for the hockey team, her family stepped up.

Boucher followed his curfew, had a great relationship with his parents and was respectful – to the point other billet parents would tell her how lucky she was, she said.

But her family should have been able to make the choice to billet Boucher based on all the information, she said.

“I welcomed him and we made him part of our family,” she said. “And, thankfully, our daughter was OK. But she had 12-year-old friends. Our neighbor had a daughter and he was there because when we billeted, they began to billet. And so he would be down the street and he was at other billet houses with young daughters, and I just feel that if this knowledge was out there, guilty or innocent, whatever he was, the capabilities or the possibility that something could occur again is what concerns me.”

The woman in the criminal case bemoaned the situation, saying that current laws wouldn’t hold USA Hockey accountable. She also questioned whether there were truly barriers to USA Hockey simply letting the Sarnia Sting know about a prior concern.

“It was all about protecting him and not protecting the community,” she said.

She said she’d heard that USA Hockey changed its own billeting policy after the Boucher incident, something, according to the police report, her parents and another witness also told police.

However, Fischer, of USA Hockey, countered this when responding to a series of Free Press questions via email. The questions included whether the program would consider a policy of sharing information in the future, whether USA Hockey is investigating the Boucher incident internally and whether any disciplinary action has been taken in the matter.

“We regularly review our operations at the (USA Hockey National Team Development Program), including related to billet families,” he said in response. “No specific changes were made back in 2011.

“And relative to this case, we are reviewing all the circumstances of its handling.”

Boyd hopes by telling her story some policy may be put in place so that information, notes or whatever there is, is exchanged in the future.

Her thoughts are on prevention.

“I feel horrible for the girl and her family, truly, because they probably did the same thing that we did,” she said, reflecting on the idea of billeting. “You want to help these kids reach a goal. This is something fun for your family.”

Darcie Moran is a breaking news reporter and podcaster for the Detroit Free Press. She’s served as an investigative reporter and covered justice issues, crime, protests, wildfires and government affairs. Contact Moran: dmoran@freepress.com. Twitter: @darciegmoran

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