Flyers: London Police address Hockey Canada charges

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Hockey Canada
FIEL – A Hockey Canada logo is displayed on a door at the organization’s head office in Calgary, Alberta, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. Hockey is bracing for the next development in a scandal that has rocked the sport and led to multiple investigations into the actions of several prominent NHL players who were on Canada’s gold-medal winning 2018 world junior team. Police in London, Ontario, scheduled a news conference for Feb. 5, 2024, to provide details about its sexual assault investigation involving members of Canada’s world junior team. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Trigger Warning: This developing story regards the London Ontario Police Department addressing the sexual assault charges on five former 2018 Hockey Canada members.

In 2018, Canada won their 17th World Junior championship.

On January 24th, 2024, five of the members from Hockey Canada were charged with sexual assault and given a set time to turn themselves into the London Ontario Police Department. The five players who received the assault chargers were Carter Hart, Dillon Dube, Michael McLeod, Cal Foote, and Alex Formenton.

Flyers' Carter Hart
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) stops a Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno shot in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

This is an ongoing investigation. In 2022, police investigators reopened their investigation, citing ‘reasonable grounds’ that five members of the 2018 Canada World Juniors team sexually assaulted a woman in a hotel room after a Hockey Canada fundraising event.

Initially, the London Police investigated the allegations in 2018, but the case closed in 2019 without charges. Hockey Canada finished their recent investigation on December 20th, 2023, and is awaiting the conclusion of the latest London Police investigation.

Hart and his legal counsel, Savard Foy LLP, released a statement citing the sexual assault charge. The same statement mentions Hart ‘is innocent’ and will provide a response to this ‘false allegation.’

Dube cited ‘mental health’ for his leave of absence with the Calgary Flames. The Flames did release a press release statement since, which said they didn’t know about the sexual assault allegations at the time of his request for a leave of absence. His legal counsel, Louis Strezos and Kaleigh Davidson, also cite the sexual assault charge while declaring Dube will plead not guilty and maintain his innocence.

McLeod and his legal counsel, Greenspan Humphrey Weinstein, cited the time elapsed since the initial complaint to the police, as worded in their statement. Additionally, the statement declares McLeod denies any criminal wrongdoing and will plead not guilty. The statement also goes the extra step to say no evidence was provided.

Foote and his legal counsel, Greenspan Partners LLP, cite the sexual assault charge. The statement declares innocence with the notion of Foote clearing his name in court. It is worded more similarly to the way Savard Foy LLP represented Hart.

Formenton, reported by Robyn Doolittle, turned himself in to the London Ontario Police on January 28th, 2024. He is pleading his innocence.

London Police Address Hockey Canada

Lawyers of the five former 2018 Canada World Junior teammates appeared via video conference regarding the case, but none were present. No charges were read in court, and no pleas were entered due to court proceedings adjourned until April 30th, 2024.

Heather Donkers stated each lawyer would receive a disclosure, including evidence collected by the London Ontario Police Department. The contents of the disclosure will be reviewed and discussed at the next hearing on April 30th, 2024. Donkers’ role is the Assistant Crown attorney.

After the arraignment featuring legal representation of each member of the 2018 Canada World Junior team facing charges, the London Ontario Police Department addressed the latest on Hockey Canada:

“These individuals have surrendered to the London Police Service and were released on undertakings with their first court appearance this morning. This investigation has been a lengthy, complex process. I want to recognize and acknowledge the victim for her courage and her incredible strength throughout. I know there are questions regarding the initial investigation and the findings of the 2022 review. It is important to understand, that as the chief of police, while I am committed to transparency and accountability, I must also ensure that I do not compromise the ongoing legal process. There is a place, and there is a time for me to provide those answers, and that time is not now. Therefore, I cannot discuss details that are now part of the case before the courts. I assure you that I will provide more information once these legal proceedings allow. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is a cornerstone of our justice system, and it applies to the five accused. Right now, our organization is focused on supporting the victim and upholding the integrity of the criminal trial process. Today’s charges are a critical, critical step as we move forward. As chief of the London Police Service, I assure you of our commitment to investigating all allegations of sexual violence with a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach.”

Chief Thai Truong; 2/5/2024

This is an ongoing, developing story. More information will follow as all parties in the investigation release more information to the public after legal proceedings.

(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP, File)