OAN’s Abril Elfi
4:24 PM – Monday, February 5, 2024
Four current NHL players and one former player have been charged with sexual assault in connection to a 2018 incident.
London, Ontario, Police Chief Thai Truong announced the chargers against netminder Carter Hart, Calgary Flames forward Dillon Dube, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, and former NHL player Alex Formenton at a press conference on Monday.
Troung stated that on June 18th, 2018, after a Hockey Canada event, the victim met “the accused and several teammates” at a bar in downtown London. Afterwards, the victim was given access to a hotel room where she was allegedly sexually assaulted.
The initial investigation was closed in February 2019 after investigators concluded there were “insufficient grounds to lay a charge,” according to Troung.
“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.”
There were several concerns raised by law enforcement regarding the preliminary investigation’s methodology and the duration of time that it took to file charges.
Troung apologized to the victim for the length of time that the investigation took after he was questioned by reporters if there was a mistake in the initial probe.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Detective Sgt. Katherine Dann claimed that law enforcement received a call from someone related to the victim the following morning on June 19th, 2018, “seeking advice regarding a sexual assault,” which is what led to the original investigation.
Dann later stated that the case, which she was assigned to lead, was “elected to review” by the London police in July 2022.
New information from that review ultimately led to the charges 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.”
The four NHL players have given their respective teams an indefinite leave of absence, and all five defendants’ attorneys have refuted any misconduct on their clients’ behalf. On Monday morning, attorneys for the players appeared virtually in a London, Ontario, courtroom.
The next court date has been set for April 30th.
In addition, the judge issued an order prohibiting any of the parties from disclosing personally identifiable information about the accuser or important witnesses in public.
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