Canadian police have confirmed charges against five current and former NHL players in connection with an alleged gang rape incident dating back to 2018. The announcement was accompanied by a public apology for the six-year duration it took to thoroughly investigate the accusations.
The players implicated, who were part of Canada’s junior national ice hockey team at the time of the alleged incident, each face one count of sexual assault. Among those charged are Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames, Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Alex Formenton, formerly of the Ottawa Senators and now playing in Switzerland.
Police Chief Thai Truong of London, Ontario, expressed remorse during a press conference, extending sincere apologies to the victim and her family for the prolonged duration of the investigation. Truong acknowledged the complexity of addressing cases of sexual violence and emphasized the challenging circumstances for all victims and survivors involved.
The allegations stem from an incident in June 2018 at a hotel in London, Ontario, where the five players are accused of sexually assaulting a young woman following a Hockey Canada gala. Initially, the police investigation concluded without charges in 2019. However, a subsequent reexamination of the case, prompted by a Hockey Canada scandal and public outcry, revealed additional evidence and witnesses, leading to the charges, according to lead investigator Katherine Dann.
All five suspects surrendered to authorities last week and have since been released pending trial. Their legal representatives participated in a preliminary court appearance via video link, where they were informed to anticipate the disclosure of a substantial volume of evidence in the ensuing weeks. Notably, none of the accused players were present during the hearing, with their lawyers affirming their clients’ denial of any wrongdoing and their intention to contest the allegations.
A follow-up court session has been scheduled for April 30 to further address the case. The unfolding of events follows revelations in May 2022 that Hockey Canada had allegedly attempted to conceal the gang rape allegations made by the young woman in 2018.
The federation reportedly made undisclosed payments amounting to several million dollars from a secret fund, partially financed by fees levied on young Canadian hockey players. Consequently, the ensuing public backlash led to a loss of sponsors, a 10-month suspension of federal funding for the federation, and the resignation of Hockey Canada chief executive Scott Smith.