Four NHL players charged with 2018 sexual assault

Four NHL players charged with 2018 sexual assault

Four NHL players have been charged with sexual assault in connection with an alleged assault carried out by Canada's 2018 world junior team, according to court documents.

Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, and Dillion Dube of the Calgary Flames were charged in connection with the assault.

Attorneys representing the athletes said they had each been charged with sexual assault by law enforcement in London, Ontario, according to the Associated Press.

The attorneys said their clients have maintained their innocence in light of the charges.

"[Mr Hart] is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law," his attorneys, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said after the charges were announced.

The attorneys representing Mr McLeod and Mr Dube said the men plan to plead not guilty, and that they would "vigorously defend the case".

"We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time," Mr McLeod's attorneys said.

Mr Dube's lawyers said he will "defend the allegations in court" and that he maintains his innocence.

Mr Foote's attorney said he was "innocent of the charge and will defend himself against this allegation to clear his name."

"What is most critical at this time is the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial that everyone in Canada is entitled to," Julia Greenspan, Mr Foote's attorney, told the Associated Press. "As the matter is before the court, I ask that Cal’s and his family’s privacy be respected."

Representatives for both the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers confirmed they were aware of the charges, but would not be making further statements due to the ongoing litigation.

"We have now become aware of the charge of sexual assault that has been laid against Dillon Dube," the Calgary Flames said in a statement. "We take this matter very seriously. Because the matter is now pending legal proceedings, we will have no further comment at this time."

A former NHL player, Alex Formenton, has already surrendered to police to face charges tied to the sexual assault case. His attorney asked that "people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence".

Police in London, Ontario, began investigating after learning that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit with a woman in 2022 who said she had been sexually assaulted by eight members of the 2018 Canada world junior team following a fundraising party.

The woman, then 20, said that a man took her from a bar to a hotel room, where he invited seven other men to have sex with her. She said she was intimidated and prevented from leaving the room, and that she was forced to shower and to say on video that she was sober.

The woman dropped the lawsuit after reaching a settlement with Hockey Canada.

The NHL launched its own investigation into the allegations in 2022, and said it would make those findings public.