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Police in London, Ontario, held a press conference Monday to provide further details regarding an investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving players from Canada’s 2018 World Junior hockey team, including why the case was reopened.
Kristen Shilton of ESPN noted Chief Thai Truong and Detective Sgt. Katherine Dann of the LPS’s Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section met with media and said the discovery of new evidence is why a case that started with a complaint in June 2018 and was closed in February 2019 was then reopened in July 2022.
“Upon review of the [initial] occurrence, it was determined that there were additional steps that could be taken to advance the investigation,” Dann, who, along with Truong, was not leading the first investigation, said.
“When the case was reopened in 2022, our team explored investigative opportunities in addition to the [original] team investigation. Those leads were followed, and additional witnesses were spoken to, and we collected more evidence.”
Truong said there were “insufficient grounds” following the initial investigation to formally charge anyone.
Truong also confirmed Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames, Cal Foote and Michael McLeod of the New Jersey Devils, and former Ottawa Senators player Alex Formenton all turned themselves into police.
They were each charged with a count of sexual assault, and McLeod was also charged with “being a party to the offense,” per Shilton.
“I truly am not happy about this whatsoever,” Truong said of the delay in filing any charges, per Calvi Leon and Andy Takagi of the Toronto Star.
“I don’t think any of our members are happy about this. That’s why I have apologized to the [alleged] victim and to her family. But I can assure you that I am confident, confident that this won’t happen again.”
Leon and Takagi noted the investigators who initially worked on the case in 2018 are not involved this time.
The alleged sexual assault occurred in June 2018 following a team banquet for Canada’s gold-medal-winning World Junior hockey team, and Shilton noted that Hockey Canada and the London Police launched investigations at the time.
However, Hockey Canada closed its investigation in September 2020.
The organization released a statement Monday saying it fully cooperated with authorities and added “significant measures to improve the culture of the sport and the safety of participants,” such as requirements for all athletes, staff and coaches to undergo training on sexual violence and consent and the implementation of a third party to investigate future complaints or allegations.
Hockey Canada @HockeyCanada
#HockeyCanada has cooperated fully with the London Police Service and we are committed to continuing to support the legal process.
Hockey Canada a collaboré pleinement avec le Service de police de London et l’organisation continuera de soutenir le processus judiciaire.
“Hockey Canada recognizes that in the past we have been too slow to act and that in order to deliver the meaningful change that Canadians expect of us, we must work diligently and urgently to ensure that we are putting in place the necessary measures to regain their trust, and provide all participants with a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment on and off the ice,” Katherine Henderson, who is the president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada, said.
With Hockey Canada’s initial investigation closed, the woman filed a $3.55 million lawsuit in April 2022 against the organization and the eight players she said were involved, per Shilton.
She and Hockey Canada reached an out-of-court settlement.
“In her court filing, the victim referenced being allegedly assaulted by eight individuals,” Shilton wrote. “Only five individuals have been charged, and there is no indication any more charges will be brought.”
Shilton also reported the NHL said it was unaware of the allegations until May 2022 and conducted its own investigation. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will not release its findings until the criminal case is completed.