Five members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior hockey team at the centre of a high-profile sexual assault case are set to appear in court Monday.
Dillon Dube, Cal Foote, Carter Hart and Michael McLeod, who now play in the NHL, were charged with sexual assault late last month. McLeod is facing an additional charge of sexual assault for allegedly “being a party to the offence,” a court document shows.
Former Ottawa Senators player Alex Formenton, who now plays in Switzerland, is also facing a sexual assault charge.
Lawyers for the players have said their clients will defend themselves against the allegations. They are set to appear at a London, Ont., courthouse Monday morning.
Last month, all five players’ teams publicly announced they had been granted indefinite leaves of absence, but the teams did not mention the London case. Dube’s team, the Calgary Flames, said he was taking leave “while he attends to his mental health” and that he is “under the care of health professionals.
The Flames later said the team “had no knowledge of pending charges at the time Dillon’s request for a leave of absence was granted.”
The charges stem from an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ont., in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala event involving a woman who was 20 years old at the time.
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The case is set to come before the courts hours before London police are scheduled to provide an update on their investigation. That news conference is set for 2 p.m. Eastern.
A police probe was initially closed without charges months after the alleged incident, but after TSN reported in May 2022 that Hockey Canada had settled a civil lawsuit with the complainant, the case was reopened.
That report triggered a series of events, as well as intense scrutiny focused on Hockey Canada that eventually led the entire board and leadership team to resign. Hockey Canada and the NHL also launched their own investigations.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week the league would wait until the criminal case has concluded before commenting. Hockey Canada has not issued an official statement on the charges.
Dube is currently on leave from the Calgary Flames, Hart from the Philadelphia Flyers, and McLeod and Foote from the New Jersey Devils.
Court documents first reported by the Globe and Mail last December and confirmed by Global News revealed London police said they have “reasonable grounds” to believe five members of the 2018 team were involved in a group sexual assault.
At the time, London police asked a judge to approve a series of investigative measures, like search warrants and production orders, related to their probe.
“I believe, on reasonable grounds, given the totality of the circumstances that I will described below, that (E.M.) was sexually assaulted. Her perceptions of the evening were one in which she understood and initially (specific sexual act(s)) with (Player #1). The (specific sexual act(s)) that occurred after that was non-consensual,” wrote Sgt. David Younan in the court documents at the time.
“I believe, when taking a global view of the evidence, (E.M.) subjectively believed that she had no alternative but to engage in the (specific sexual act(s)). Further, I believe that each of the suspects knew or ought to have known that (E.M.) had not consented to the (specific sexual act(s)) in which each engaged.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Hockey Canada in November said late last year that the final report from an independent adjudication panel that looked into the alleged sexual assaults would not be released publicly amid an internal appeal process.
Henein Hutchison LLP’s report has also remained sealed throughout the adjudication process, which itself was carried out in private. That probe was reopened after the TSN report in 2022.
All players from the 2018 World Junior team remain suspended by Hockey Canada and are ineligible to play, coach or otherwise participate in any Hockey Canada-sanctioned events — including international competition — pending the completion of the appeal process, the organization said.
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