Four NHL players charged in Canada for sexual assault in 2018

By Nadine Yousif, BBC News

    Getty Images A generic photo of the Team Canada logo Getty Images

Canadian police have charged four National Hockey League players in connection with an alleged group sexual assault in 2018, according to their lawyers.

The NHL players are Mike McLeod and Cal Foote with the New Jersey Devils, Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers and Dillon Dubé of the Calgary Flames.

Former NHL player Alex Formenton was also charged in the same incident.

Lawyers for the five players have said they intend to plead not guilty.

The five men were members of the Canadian junior ice hockey team at the time of the alleged assault.

Lawyers for Mr McLeod, 25, confirmed he had been charged in a media statement on Tuesday.

“Mr. McLeod denies any criminal wrongdoing,” attorneys David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein said. “He will plead not guilty and vigorously defend his case.”

In a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday, lawyers for Mr Hart, 25, also confirmed he had been charged.

“He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false allegation in the appropriate forum, a court of law,” attorneys Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani said. “At this time we have no comment.”

Louis Strezos and Kaleigh Davidson, who represented Mr. Dubé, 25, said their client “will plead not guilty and maintain his innocence.”

Lawyer Julianna Greespan, who represents Mr Foote, 25, said “Cal is innocent of this charge and will defend himself against this allegation to clear his name.”

Mr Formenton, 24, who plays for Swiss hockey club Ambri-Piotta, turned himself in to police on Sunday.

His lawyers said in a statement that he “will vigorously defend his innocence and ask people not to rush to judgment without hearing all the evidence.”

All players reportedly took time off from their teams last week.

The charges relate to an alleged sexual assault that allegedly took place in London, about 190 km (118 miles) southwest of Toronto, in 2018 following a Hockey Canada Foundation fundraising event in the city.

A 24-year-old woman initially filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada – which managed the country’s programs and teams from entry level to world championships and the Olympics – alleging she was assaulted by eight players during the Canadian World Cup. Junior team in a hotel room that evening.

In her lawsuit, she said she felt pressured not to report the incident to police.

In May 2022, sports network TSN revealed that Hockey Canada had quietly reached a deal with the woman.

The revelation sparked a national outcry in Canada, leading to the loss of federal funding and several high-profile sponsorship deals for the organization.

A subsequent Globe and Mail article also revealed that Hockey Canada had established a national action fund – made up of contributions paid by youth players across the country – to resolve past sexual assault claims.

London police later reopened their investigation into the alleged assault.

London Police announced they would release further information about the investigation at a press conference on February 5.

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