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Police apologize in Canada hockey gang rape case

By AFP

February 6, 2024 09:17 AM


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Canadian police confirmed Monday charges against five current and former NHL players over an alleged 2018 gang rape, and apologized for the six years it took to investigate the accusations.

The players, who were part of Canada's junior national ice hockey team at the time, each face one count of sexual assault.

Those charged are Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils; Calgary Flames forward Dillon Dube; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart; and Alex Formenton, formerly of the Ottawa Senators who now plays in Switzerland.

McLeoad has also been charged with being a party to the offence -- in other words, aiding or encouraging others to commit a crime.

"I want to extend on behalf of the London Police Service my sincerest apology to the victim (and) to her family for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point," Thai Truong, the police chief of London, Ontario, told a news conference.

"As a police officer working in this space for many years, I can tell you that this is a difficult, difficult situation for all victims and survivors of sexual violence," he said.

The five players are accused of sexually assaulting a young woman at a London, Ontario hotel after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.

The police investigation was closed without charges in 2019 but a second look at the case -- following a Hockey Canada scandal and public uproar -- uncovered additional evidence and more witnesses that led to the charges, according to lead investigator Katherine Dann.

All five suspects surrendered to police last week and have been released pending the trial, she said.

Earlier Monday, lawyers for players made a first court appearance via video link and were told to expect a substantial amount of evidence to be disclosed over the coming weeks.

None of the players were present for the hearing. Their lawyers have said the players denied any wrongdoing and would fight the accusations.

A next court hearing was scheduled for April 30.

In May 2022, Hockey Canada was rocked by press revelations accusing it of trying to cover up the gang rape allegations made by the young woman in 2018.

The federation quietly paid the woman several million dollars from a secret fund -- one that was supported in part by fees paid by young Canadian hockey players.

The backlash was swift, leading to a flight of sponsors and a 10-month suspension of federal funding for the federation, as well as the ouster of Hockey Canada chief executive Scott Smith.


AFP


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