A former National Hockey League player has just plead guilty to a very serious crime, but there is already considerable backlash surrounding the decision to let him off with what many feel is far too light a punishment.
According to a report from the Detroit Free Press former NHL forward Reid Boucher, who spent time with the New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL and now currently plays in the Kontinental Hockey League, has pled guilty to sexually assaulting a minor all the way back in 2011. Boucher reportedly assaulted a 12 year old girl when he was 17 years old and a part of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, a girl that was his billet sister at the time of the assault.
Given the heinous nature of the crime Boucher was originally charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct which carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, however during a hearing in December, Circuit Judge Patrick Conlin agreed to let Boucher take a plea deal for a lesser charge. While that is not uncommon in criminal cases, the lesser charge has resulted in the judge agreeing to sentence him with no upfront jail time through what is known as the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. To make matters even worse, under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, Boucher would avoid having the case appear on his public record once he successfully completes his sentence.
Boucher pled guilty on December 13th 2021 in Washtenaw County Trial Court to third degree criminal sexual conduct involving sexual penetration with an individual between the ages of 13 and 16 years old as a part of his plea agreement.
It seems both Boucher's age at the time he committed the act and the amount of time that has passed played a significant role in the decision, however the victim in this case is understandably unhappy with the court's handling of this difficult process.
"Him serving probation for doing this just - it feels like a slap in the face because I lost all these years of my life to the trauma and the harm that he inflicted on me and my family," said the victim. "And it completely destroyed my family for a really long time"
The fact that Boucher could walk away without so much as a blemish on his record for reportedly assaulting her multiple times has understandably left her feeling 'disgusted' by all of this, and quite frankly I think everyone can empathize with her and her family on this matter.
Considering this was an incident that involved a billet family there was clear involvement on the part of USA Hockey in this matter and I am unhappy to report that it appears they did not do nearly enough in response to the situation. USA Hockey was reportedly contacted about the incident in 2011, but according to the Detroit Free Press all the organization did was remove Boucher from the billet home and put him somewhere else.
Boucher is expected to be sentenced on the 31 of January.