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Canucks Owner Francesco Aquilini Accused Of Child Abuse In Court

Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini talks to the media before their NHL game against the the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena December 6, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

A court hearing was held Tuesday in British Columbia regarding whether Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini should pay child support for three of his four adult children while they continue their studies in universities, according to multiple reports in the Canadian press. Aquilini had been married to their mother, Tali'ah Aquilini, and their divorce was finalized in 2013 with Tali'ah Aquilini getting sole custody and guardianship of all four children.

At issue were redactions made by Tali'ah Aquilini regarding information about their children, according to the CBC. In receipts for reimbursement, Tali'ah Aquilini would redact information such as the names of their universities. In court, her attorney said that she did so at her children's request, which prompted the attorney to provide context to the court about why.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the three younger children all submitted affidavits about physical and psychological abuse they suffered at the hands of their father. Per the CBC, the court file is sealed from public viewing under Canadian family court law. But excerpts were read aloud in the court by Tali'ah Aquilini's lawyer, Claire Hunter. One excerpt came not from an affidavit but from a letter written to Francesco Aquilini in 2020 by the fourth adult child, who is no longer in university unlike their younger siblings. Here is what Hunter read to the court, according to the CBC:

"Your relationship with us is a direct consequence of your treatment toward us, whether you'd like to acknowledge it or not. We all hold many individual accounts of your abuse towards us," she wrote.

"I would like to formally state that myself and my siblings … wish to have no contact with you, nor would we like you to have access to any of our contact, medical information or other information regarding our lives."

Other excerpts read aloud had a child describing their father "beating them while they were sleeping and continued to beat them until they woke up," according to the CBC. Another said their father punched them in the stomach. The longest part read aloud, according to the CBC, was from an affidavit describing what happened after the children got in trouble for being too loud.

"The respondent [Francesco Aquilini] then forced all of us upstairs into our individual rooms, went to each room to physically abuse each child. I saw the respondent throw another child — at that time five years old — across the room," the affidavit says.

"I locked myself in my bathroom. The respondent broke the lock and was throwing his body at the door to come in and beat me. I called the claimant [Tali'ah Aquilini] and asked her to hurry home, stating I was scared the respondent would kill me, and I was worried that he had already killed my younger siblings."

According to the Sun, Francesco Aquilini's lawyer told the court during the hearing that the affidavits were irrelevant to what was being discussed. Later, a statement was released on behalf of Francesco Aquilini, saying he denied abusing his children. It went on to say that he had "concerns about the veracity of the information provided in support of financial demands." He also said the allegations were "brought forward for a collateral purpose."

The NHL also issued a statement.

Outside of court, Tali'ah Aquilini gave a short statement to reporters, according to the Sun. She called the need to return to court "disappointing" but gushed about her children and how hard they worked in school, adding, "They’ve worked really hard to overcome the damage he's inflicted upon them already.”

Clarification (8:49 p.m. ET): This post has been updated to make clear that the letter read aloud in court was written by the fourth and oldest adult child, who is no longer in university.

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