By The Canadian Press
Five players from Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team are expected to plead not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault, according to statements from their lawyers.
Calgary Flames forward Dillon Dube, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod and defenceman Cal Foote said through their legal representatives Tuesday that they have arrangements to surrender and face sexual assault charges.
Alex Formenton, a former Ottawa Senators forward who has been playing in Switzerland, surrendered to police in London, Ontario, on Sunday. His lawyer confirmed that he has been charged in connection with the case, and said the player would plead not guilty.
The accused players have all been allowed to go on indefinite leave from their pro clubs.
The Globe and Mail, citing two unnamed sources, reported last Wednesday that the charges are connected to an alleged group sexual assault of a woman in a London hotel room in June 2018. The incident allegedly occurred following a Hockey Canada gala where the players were honoured for their victory at that year’s world junior tournament. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
There has been no official statement from either the NHL or Hockey Canada with regards to the charges.
The incident allegedly occurred following a Hockey Canada gala where the players were honoured for their victory at that year’s world junior tournament.
London police have said a press conference to update developments in its investigation into the 2018 case is scheduled for Monday.
A woman identified as E.M. in court documents filed a $3.55-million lawsuit in the spring of 2022 that was quickly settled out of court by Hockey Canada before TSN first broke the story.
London police closed an initial investigation in February 2019 without filing charges, but reopened the case in 2022.
A lead investigator wrote in legal documents filed with Ontario courts in December 2022 that there were grounds to believe a woman was sexually assaulted by five players on the junior team.
The NHL also launched its own investigation, which deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in June had concluded.
Along with Hockey Canada and the London police, that made for three separate probes into an incident that has cast a long shadow over the sport in Canada.
All players from the 2018 junior team have been excluded from international events.