Exeter hockey player sentenced to a year behind bars in sexual assault case
A 20-year-old junior hockey player has been sentenced to a year in prison for two sexual assault convictions.
Mitch Vandergunst, an Exeter native and one of the Stratford Cullitons assistant captains, was found guilty on two of three counts of sexual assault in Oct. 2014.
Vandergunst was sentenced in front of a packed courtroom in Goderich on Wednesday, with many friends and family in attendance.
Specific details of the incidents are protected by a publication ban, however Justice George Brophy remarked that “there was a predatory nature to his actions.”
The charges stemmed from incidents in July 2013, but despite the conviction last fall, he remained in the Cullitons’ lineup – as an assistant captain – as recently as Jan. 24.
The court heard that Vandergunst told his coach of the charges shortly after his conviction in the fall, but the team's board of directors says they just found out about the charges last week.
Team president Dan Mathieson told CTV News Vandergunst was removed from the lineup and suspended from the team last Friday, when the team became aware of the convictions.
“(He is) not allowed at practices, games or facilities. The team is working with the OHA and Hockey Canada and our team's prevention officer Mike Robinson on the matter,” Mathieson said in an email.
Vandergunst was also sentenced to two years of probation.
He is appealing is conviction.
With files from CTV Kitchener and The Canadian Press