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Perhaps the best hockey team this town ever saw blew up because of what went down in this Georgetown alley.
The 1989-1990 Washington Capitals roster was a great mix of past, current and future stars. The squad made it all the way to the conference finals, before losing to Boston. That was by far the best season in the history of the franchise to that point.
And to celebrate, the organization threw a party for the team right after the semifinals loss at Champions, an, um, seminal sports bar tucked away from the neighborhood’s big intersection, Wisconsin and M Sts. By all accounts, it was a wild bash. Hours after it ended, a teenager filed a report with DC police accusing four Caps — team leaders and fan favorites Scott Stevens, Geoff Courtnall, Dino Cicarrelli and Neil Sheehy — of raping and sodomizing her in a limousine parked by the alley outside the bar.
DC cops told the media that it looked like a crime had indeed occurred. And when word got out that the accuser was only 17 years old, the story became a bombshell. Women’s rights groups held rallies outside Champions after it was publicized that the limo was rented for the accused by the bar.
The charges never went anywhere. None of the accused was ever indicted. The accused was never publicly identified. A couple years ago I spoke with the limo driver, who was in the car with the players and the girl, and asked what he remembered about that night and the incident.
“One thing I can tell you for certain: There were no screams for no help,” the driver told me. “She knew exactly what she was doing. She knew she was going to roll those dummies under a damn bus when she got through with them.”
But the accusations alone had a hard and fast impact on the sports franchise and even the bar, which at the time was the city’s hottest nightspot in its hottest neighborhood. (ESPN the Magazine put Champions, recognized as the world’s first sports bar, on a 2004 list of the greatest innovations in sports history).
The Caps unloaded all the accused as quickly as possible. Champions owner and man-about-town Mike O’Harro soon got out of the sports bar business.
O’Harro once told me that after the incident, “I just said, ‘Maybe it’s time for me to move on.’”