Five players from 2018 Canada world junior hockey team charged with sexual assault

Five members of the 2018 Canadian world junior hockey team have been charged with sexual assault in London, Ont., on Monday. The team won the gold medal in January 2018 during the IIHF WOrld Junior Championship, beating Sweden 3-1 in the final. Photo courtesy of Hockey Canada/Release
Five members of the 2018 Canadian world junior hockey team have been charged with sexual assault in London, Ont., on Monday. The team won the gold medal in January 2018 during the IIHF WOrld Junior Championship, beating Sweden 3-1 in the final. Photo courtesy of Hockey Canada/Release

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Five players of the gold medal-winning 2018 Canadian world junior hockey team have been charged with sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room, according to authorities who apologized to the victim on Monday for taking so long to conclude their investigation into the six-year-old incident that has rocked the hockey powerhouse nation.

Police in London, Ont., which is located about 120 miles southwest of Toronto and where the alleged assault took place in June of 2018, announced during a press conference Monday that sexual assault charges have been filed against Michael McLeod, 26, Carter Hart, 25, Alexandar Formenton, 24, Callan Foote, 25, and Dillon Dubé, 25.


They have each been charged with one count of sexual assault while McLeod has been charged with an additional second count.

All five have turned themselves into London Police Service headquarters and were released, the authorities said, adding their first court appearance occurred earlier Monday.


Four of the five accused play for NHL clubs and their arrests were widely expected as their teams had granted them leaves of absence in the past few weeks as it became known that charges would soon be announced.

McLeod and Foote both play for the New Jersey Devils, Hart for the Philadelphia Flyers and Dubé plays for the Calgary Flames. Formenton formerly played for the Ottawa Senators and was playing in Europe.

The allegations that eight players on the team sexually assaulted the woman in a London hotel room in June 2018 following a Hockey Canada fundraiser were first revealed in May 2022 when it was reported that the victim, identified in court documents as E.M., had a month prior filed a lawsuit against the organization over the assault.

The lawsuit states she was supplied alcohol by one of the players at a downtown London bar, who invited her back to his hotel room where they "engaged in sexual acts." Afterward, and without her knowledge nor consent, the player invited others from his team into the room where the sexual assault occurred over several hours.

The London Police Service was contacted the following morning in connection to the assault and closed the case without charges in February 2019 after determining that no grounds existed to indicate a crime had occurred.


Hockey Canada made a $3.5 million settlement with the unnamed woman, and amid public anger and media attention, the police force announced a review of its initial investigation on July 20, 2022, which resulted in the charges announced Monday.

"This investigation has been a lengthy and complex process. I want to recognize and acknowledge the victim for her courage and incredible strength throughout," London Police Chief Thai Truong said during the press conference.

"I want to extend on behalf of the London Police Service my sincerest apology to the victim, to her family for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point. As a police officer working in this space for many, many years, I can tell you that this is a difficult, difficult situation for all victims and survivors of sexual violence."

Sgt. Katherine Dann who headed the reopening of the case told reporters that the charges follow the collection of new evidence, some of which was not available during the initial probe that concluded in 2019.

The scandal has rocked the hockey world in Canada, where the International Ice Hockey Federation's World Junior Championship is regarded as an important sporting event where the future stars of the so-called Canadian game are put on display.


As public anger boiled, Hockey Canada officials were brought before the House of Commons in late July 2022 where they revealed that they had paid out $8.9 million in sexual abuse settlements to 21 people since 1989.

In October of that year, the Hockey Canada Board of Directors and its chief executive officer, Scott Smith, announced they were stepping down.

Hockey Canada then launched its own investigation in July 2022 into whether the 2018 junior team breached Hockey Canada's code of conduct. In November, an independent panel released its report to all involved parties but was swiftly appealed by an unidentified person.

Earlier this year, Hockey Canada announced that all players from the 2018 National Junior Team were suspended, and made ineligible to play, coach, officiate or volunteer with Hockey Canada-sanctioned events.

In a statement Monday, Hockey Canada said it has cooperated fully with the London Police Service throughout its investigation.

"Hockey Canada recognizes that in the past we have been too slow to act and that in order to deliver the meaningful change that Canadians expect of us, we must work diligently and urgently to ensure that we are putting in place the necessary measures to regain their trust, and provide all participants with a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment on and off the ice," Katherine Henderson, president and chief executive of Hockey Canada, said.


During the press conference on Monday, Dann read a statement from the victim's legal representation.

"It takes an incredible amount of courage for any survivor of sexual assault to report to the police and participate in the criminal justice system. That is certainly true for E.M. -- yet she remains committed to see this process through. We simply ask that the media and others respect her privacy and her dignity as this matter proceeds through the court process," Dann said, reading the statement.

Canada's 2018 National Junior Team won the IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal in January of that year, defeating Sweden 3-1 in the final.

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