Saturday, March 2, 2024

Flyers’ Carter Hart, Devils’ Michael McLeod among NHL players charged with sexual assault in 2018 case

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod, Devils defenseman Cal Foote and Calgary Flames forward Dillon Dube have been charged with sexual assault in an alleged assault involving members of Canada’s gold medal-winning world junior team.

Attorneys that represent Hart, McLeod, Foote, and Dube announced on Tuesday that each player had been charged with sexual assault by London, Ontario police. On behalf of their clients, they have denied that they committed such a crime.

“He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law,” Hart’s lawyers, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said in a statement.

Legal representation for McLeod and Dube also stated that their clients would be pleading not guilty to their respective charges.

“(We) will vigorously defend the case,” McLeod’s lawyers, David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a statement. “We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time.”

Dube’s attorneys, Louis Strezos and Kayleigh Davidson, stated that their client “maintains his innocence (and) will defend the allegations in court.”

“We have now become aware of the charge of sexual assault that has been laid against Dillon Dube,” the Flames said in a statement after the charge was made public. “We take this matter very seriously. Because the matter is now pending legal proceedings, we will have no further comment at this time.”

In addition, Foote’s lawyer, Julianna Greenspan, stated that he is “innocent of the charge and will defend himself against this allegation to clear his name.”

Earlier in the week, former Ottawa Senators forward Alex Formenton turned himself in to police to face a similar charge. Formenton’s attorney, Daniel Brown, stated that his client is innocent, and “asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence.”

Before the charges being made public, all five players had taken a leave of absence from their respective teams.

London, Ontario police began an investigation back in 2022 after it was learned that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit with a woman who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by eight members of the 2018 Canadian World Junior team following a Hockey Canada Foundation gala.

Per court documents, the victim, who was 20 years old at the time, alleged that a man “John Doe #1” took her back to a hotel room, and invited seven other individuals in that hotel room to engage in sexual acts. The woman stated in the lawsuit that the men asked her to take a shower and asked her to say that she was sober in a recorded message.

As a result, the woman had sought $3.55 million in damages and ended up settling with Hockey Canada.

The NHL ended up launching their own investigation in 2022, and stated that they’d make the results public. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league would release a statement once it was appropriate.

The Flyers and Devils both granted leave of absences to their players last week and didn’t give a reason as to why those were being awarded. However, the Flames released a statement saying that Dube was taking a leave of absence to deal with his mental health.

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