NHL Players Tight-Lipped About Charges in Alleged Gang Rape Case
TORONTO — The NHL world was left in shock as five players from Canada’s 2018 world junior team faced charges related to an alleged gang rape. The incident allegedly occurred following a Hockey Canada gala in London, Ontario, where the players were honored for their victory at that year’s tournament.
Lawyers representing NHL players Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames and Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, confirmed on Tuesday that their clients have been charged in connection with the alleged sexual assault. All four players have stated through their lawyers that they intend to plead not guilty.
The charges have prompted a wave of controversy within the sport’s governing body. London police, who initially closed the investigation in February 2019 without filing charges, reopened the case in 2022. A lead investigator later stated in court documents that there were grounds to believe a woman was sexually assaulted by five players.
While the allegations against the players have not been proven in court, the incident has had significant repercussions for Hockey Canada. The organization settled a $3.55-million lawsuit filed by a woman identified as E.M. in April 2022. The subsequent revelation that Hockey Canada maintained a fund, using minor hockey fees, to pay for uninsured liabilities, including lawsuits related to sexual assault, led to widespread criticism and calls for greater transparency within the organization.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, all players from the 2018 junior team have been banned from international events. This decision has had personal consequences for players like Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, who expressed his disappointment at not being able to participate in the world championships.
While the NHL’s brightest stars have been instructed not to comment on the case, the league launched its own investigation, which concluded in June. Hockey Canada, however, has stated that the findings of its independent third-party report are under appeal.
The allegations and subsequent developments have had a profound impact on the sport, leading to parliamentary hearings, funding freezes, and the resignation of Hockey Canada’s president and CEO, Scott Smith, in October 2022.
London police have scheduled a press conference for Monday to provide an update on the sexual assault allegation involving members of the 2018 Canadian world junior hockey team.
This breaking news report by The Canadian Press was first published on February 1, 2024.
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