It’s become a terrible and oddly familiar story in the world of junior sport: A man in authority taking advantage of underage women. It happened again earlier this month at the University of Guelph at a volleyball tournament, and after receiving reports from volunteers in attendance, Guelph Police have arrested a man who was one of the referees at the tournament and he’s facing now over a dozen charges.
According to a media release separate from the usual daily report on Friday, charges have been laid against Hughbee Brown, a 63-year-old resident of Dashwood Ontario who was working as a referee at a high school volleyball tournament over the weekend of May 2-4. A number of complaints from young women between the ages of 13 and 17 were filed with Guelph Police after the tournament about inappropriate sexual conduct by Brown, and an investigation was opened one week later on May 11.
In the course of the investigation, Police learned about similar incidents happening at another tournament in Guelph back in March where two 17-year-old females working at the game in a local high school made additional allegations against Brown. The concern now is about other potential victims. Brown has over 30 years of refereeing experience, and has spent 20 years in high schools in the Ottawa area, Waterloo Region, and the Thames Valley area in southwestern Ontario.
Brown was charged with seven counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and five counts of sexual exploitation. He will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice on June 28. In the meantime, other school boards where Brown served as a referee have been informed about the arrest and people with any information about this case are invited to get in touch with Detective Constable Mike Gatto at 519-824-1212, ext. 7515 or email SVU [at] guelphpolice.ca.
With the inciting incident of this investigation happening on the University of Guelph, it’s probably brought back unpleasant memories of Dave Scott-Thomas. The renowned track coach was initially suspended from his job at the university in 2019 after repeated allegations surfaced of inappropriate behaviour with athletes, including one instance where he was accused of grooming a young woman for sex. Scott-Thomas was fired from the U of G and was removed from the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame in early 2020.