Prison, probation for Stratford Cullitons player in sexual assault
A 20-year-old member of the Stratford Cullitons hoceky team has been sentenced to one year in prison.
Mitch Vandergunst, an Exeter resident, was sentenced Wednesday in Goderich, in front of a packed courthouse containing his family, friends and teammates, in connection with two incidents from July 2013.
Specific details of those incidents are protected by a publication ban, however Justice George Brophy remarked that “there was a predatory nature to his actions.”
Vandergunst was convicted on two of three counts of sexual assault last October, however he remained in the Cullitons’ lineup – as an assistant captain – as recently as Jan. 24.
Team president Dan Mathieson told CTV News that Vandergunst was removed from the lineup and suspended from the team last Friday, when the team first became aware of the convictions.
“(He is) not allowed at practices, games or facilities,” Mathieson – also the city’s mayor – said in an email.
However, court heard Wednesday that Vandergunst notified one of the Cullitons’ coaches about his conviction at the time it occurred.
It was not made clear if that coach passed along the information to anybody else within the organization.
The Ontario Hockey Association and Hockey Canada are among the agencies now looking into the matter.
In addition to the prison term, Vandergunst was sentenced to two years of probation.