WARNING: This article contains details of abuse.
Former junior hockey player Noah Corson has been found guilty of sexual assault.
The verdict was handed down Friday morning at the Drummondville courthouse following Corson's trial, which took place in November.
The victim's identity is subject to a publication ban. She was 15 at the time of the assault in 2016.
The Crown and the defence had agreed that Corson had taken part in a group sexual activity involving two other hockey players at the complainant's residence. However, the debate in court centred on whether or not the victim had consented to the activity, and if Corson had verified her age.
While Corson assured the court that he was convinced the victim was at least 18, the Crown argued he proved to be "reckless" or "wilfully blind."
In his verdict, Judge Paul Dunnigan said the accused had not taken all the reasonable steps he should have taken to ascertain the complainant's age. In the circumstances, the judge did not need to rule on the issue of consent.
Under the Criminal Code, someone under 16 can't consent to group sex.
Unwanted group sex is considered aggravated assault under section 272 d) of the Criminal Code and it is not a defence that the complainant consented to the activity.
"You can tell to the court that you made an error regarding the age of the victim, but to do so you must take all the reasonable steps to check out the age of the victim," said prosecutor Marc-André Roy.
"The justice didn't agree with the fact that he took all reasonable steps.... [Corson] didn't ask any questions."
Roy says this ruling may be the first of its kind when it comes to hockey players. He hopes it's a "lesson for all the young boys."
"I'm thinking about the the victim. I'm thinking about the courage that she has, because it's not an easy task to go on a trial with the case," said Roy. "I think about all the psychological wounds that she has and I hope that this judgment will help her to go along."
Corson was 18 at the time of the assault and played for the Drummondville Voltigeurs. He is the son of former Montreal Canadiens centre Shayne Corson.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act forbids the identification of the other two young men involved in the assault. They pleaded guilty last year to sexual assault charges in youth court.
According to the agreed statement of facts, the complainant did not know two of the hockey players before meeting them on the night of the assault. She had been seeing the third young man for a few weeks but was not in a relationship with him.
After spending part of the evening at a restaurant, the group went to the victim's home. Sexual acts were then initiated with the victim and escalated to group sexual activity to which the victim did not consent.
During the assault, one of the underage accused captured a video on his cellphone.
Radio-Canada reported that Noah Corson left the courtroom with his hands over his face.
The parties are due back in court on May 3 for sentencing.
For anyone who has been sexually assaulted, there is support available through crisis lines and local support services via this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.