Police in Canada announced Monday that four current NHL players and one former player were charged with sexual assault in connection with a 2018 incident after a comprehensive review opened three years after the initial investigation was closed unearthed additional evidence and new information.
London, Ontario, Police Chief Thai Truong opened Monday’s news conference explaining the lengthy process that led to Philadelphia Flyers netminder Carter Hart, Calgary Flames forward Dillon Dube, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, and former NHL player Alex Formenton being charged in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place when the five players were members of Hockey Canada’s world junior team in 2018.
According to Troung, the victim met “the accused and several teammates” at a bar in downtown London following a Hockey Canada event on June 18, 2018. The victim was later invited to a hotel room where she was allegedly sexually assaulted.
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The initial investigation was conducted from June 2018 until February 2019 and was closed after investigators at the time found there were “insufficient grounds to lay a charge,” Troung said.
“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,” he added, before answering questions from the media.
“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.”
Law enforcement faced several questions about the process of the initial investigation and the length of time it took for charges to be filed. When asked if there was a mistake in the initial investigation, Troung said he was apologizing to the victim because of how long the process took to reach this point.
“I’m apologizing to the victim and to her family because it’s taken this long. This should not take this long. It shouldn’t take years and years for us to arrive to the outcome of today. All victims of sexual violence in many forms, they should not have to wait this long.”
“We are moving forward as a police service, just like all police services, to try and make sure that we investigate sexual violence better and better each and every day,” he later added. “And I can tell you that our commitment remains strong and will continue every day. We will strive to be better and better. And we should.”
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Detective Sgt. Katherine Dann said during the presser that law enforcement received a call from someone related to the victim the following morning on June 19, 2018, “seeking advice regarding a sexual assault.” This led to the initial investigation.
Dann said in July 2022 the London police “elected to review” the case, which she was tasked with leading. That review resulted in new information that ultimately led to the charges filed last week.
“I would like to make it clear that the victim in this matter has fully participated in this investigation from the time it was initially reported to police until today,” Dann said. “When the case was reopened in 2022, our team explored investigative opportunities, in addition to the 2018 investigation. Those leads were followed. Additional witnesses were spoken to and we collected more evidence.”
“I can confirm that some of this evidence was not available when the investigation concluded in 2019,” she added. “This is one investigation, not two. The evidence that was collected in 2018 and 2019 was used in combination with newly gathered evidence to form reasonable and probable grounds to charge these five individuals with sexual assault.”
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Law enforcement did not go into the details of the case as it is still ongoing.
The four NHL players have taken an indefinite leave of absence from their respective clubs. Lawyers for all five defendants have denied any wrongdoing on their behalf.
Lawyers representing the players appeared virtually in a London, Ontario courtroom on Monday morning. None of the players appeared either virtually or in person. The attorneys agreed to waive the reading of the charges and the next court day was scheduled for April 30.
The judge also issued an order barring any of the parties involved from publicly sharing identifiable information about the accuser or key witnesses.
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