LONDON, Ontario — The police chief of London, Ontario, on Monday confirmed that five players from Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team have been charged with sexually assaulting a woman that year and apologized to her for the years it took to bring the case forward.
Chief Thai Truong said Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames and former NHL player Alex Formenton have been charged with sexual assault. Detective Sgt. Katherine Dann of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section said the investigation reopened in 2022 found reasonable and probable grounds to bring the charges, which could bring jail time if there are convictions.
“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,” Truong said at a news conference with dozens of reporters on hand. “This should not take this long. It shouldn’t take years and years for us to arrive to the outcome of today.”
McLeod also faces a charge of “being a party to the offense,” which Dann said was for aiding someone else in committing the offense.
Attorneys for all five players took part in a video hearing earlier Monday. No players were present at the court proceeding in London, a city about halfway between Toronto and Detroit. The next hearing was scheduled for April 30.
During the brief hearing, prosecutors sought and obtained an order protecting the identity of the woman, which is standard in sexual assault cases, as well as that of two witnesses. Prosecutor Heather Donkers also said defense attorneys would receive “substantial” evidence in the next few days.
Lawyers for all five players have said their clients are not guilty and will defend themselves against the allegations. The players surrendered to London police over the past week.
The case has shadowed Canadian hockey for years.
A woman sued Hockey Canada in 2022, alleging she was sexually assaulted in a hotel room by eight members of Canada’s world junior team after a fundraising gala in London in June 2018. Hockey Canada settled the lawsuit, and then an investigation revealed the organization had two secret slush funds to pay out settlements on claims of sexual assault and abuse.
London police dropped their investigation in 2019 but began another internal investigation in July 2022. Around the same time, the NHL launched its own investigation, though the results of that likely will not be released until the legal case is resolved.
“At this stage, the most responsible and prudent thing for us to do is await the conclusion of the judicial proceedings, at which point we will respond as appropriate at the time,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday at All-Star Weekend in Toronto.
The players are on indefinite leave from their teams. Bettman said the league does not consider it necessary to suspend the players without pay for the rest of the season.
Bettman said the league found out about the allegations on May 26, 2022. He said the NHL interviewed every player from that team, adding the woman involved declined to take part in the investigation.