Five members of Canada’s 2018 World Juniors hockey team have been told to surrender to police and are set to face charges in relation to an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ont., according to a media report.
The Globe and Mail first reported the development Wednesday, citing two sources with knowledge of the investigation who were not named because they were not authorized to speak on the case.
The players, who have not been charged yet, have been given a set period of time to present themselves at London police headquarters, the Globe reported. Global News has not independently confirmed the Globe reporting.
Several players who were members on the 2018 team have taken indefinite leaves of absence from their clubs over recent days, according to statements from their teams posted on the social media platform X and in public comments. Those players are Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames and former Ottawa Senators player Alex Formenton, who now plays in Switzerland.
Global News has reached out to agents representing all of the players taking leaves and legal representatives, as well as the NHL and NHL Players Association, but has not received responses by publication time.
London Police Services and the investigating officer on the case both said they had no information to share at this time.
There is no confirmation that the leaves are related to the Globe report.
The reportedly anticipated charges stem from an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ont., in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala event.
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News of the event first broke in May 2022 after TSN reported Hockey Canada had settled a civil lawsuit with the complainant. That report trigged a series of events, which included renewed investigations, as well as intense scrutiny focused on Hockey Canada that eventually led the entire board and leadership team to resign.
Two investigations — one by London police and another by law firm Henein Hutchison, which was retained by Hockey Canada to conduct an independent probe — were launched a day after the incident allegedly occurred. Both were closed months later with no charges or sanctions against any of the players alleged to have been involved.
However, after the allegations became public in May 2022, both investigations were reopened.
Court documents first reported by the Globe and Mail last December and confirmed by Global News revealed London police said they have “reasonable grounds” to believe five members of the 2018 team were involved in a group sexual assault.
The documents, while redacted in parts, revealed the most detail yet from police about the state of their investigation. At the time, London police asked a judge to approve a series of investigative measures, like search warrants and production orders, related to their probe.
“I believe, on reasonable grounds, given the totality of the circumstances that I will described below, that (E.M.) was sexually assaulted. Her perceptions of the evening were one in which she understood and initially (specific sexual act(s)) with (Player #1). The (specific sexual act(s)) that occurred after that was non-consensual,” wrote Sgt. David Younan in the court documents at the time.
“I believe, when taking a global view of the evidence, (E.M.) subjectively believed that she had no alternative but to engage in the (specific sexual act(s)). Further, I believe that each of the suspects knew or ought to have known that (E.M.) had not consented to the (specific sexual act(s)) in which each engaged.”
Hockey Canada has faced a reckoning over its overall handling of sexual assault cases involving players. Media reports have revealed the organization maintained a reserve fund, fueled by membership fees, that was used in part to settle sexual misconduct cases.
Hockey Canada has said the fund will no longer be used for that purpose.
Top sponsors including Nike, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Scotiabank and Esso pulled their sponsorships, demanding change within the top ranks of the organization.
After months of pressure, the entire board of directors and leadership team resigned in October. The newly-installed board and leadership have promised to change the overall culture within the sport and the organization.
Hockey Canada in November said the final report from an independent adjudication panel that looked into the alleged sexual assaults would not be released publicly amid an appeal.
Henein Hutchison LLP’s report has also remained sealed throughout the adjudication process, which itself was carried out in private.
All players from the 2018 world junior team remain suspended by Hockey Canada and are ineligible to play, coach or otherwise participate in any Hockey Canada-sanctioned events — including international competition — pending the completion of the appeal process, the organization said.
— with files from Global News’ Sean Boynton
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