March 1st, 2024

Former world junior hockey players’ sex assault case adjourned to April

By The Canadian Press on February 5, 2024.

Ottawa Senators' Alex Formenton during an NHL hockey game in Philadelphia, Friday, April 29, 2022; New Jersey Devils defenceman Cal Foote before an NHL hockey game in Newark, N.J., Friday, Oct. 27, 2023; New Jersey Devils' Michael McLeod during an NHL hockey game in Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023; Calgary Flames centre Dillon Dube during an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023 and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart during an NHL hockey game in Uniondale, N.Y., Saturday, April 3, 2021. The five players from Canada's 2018 world junior hockey team are facing sexual assault charges. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matt Slocum, Noah K. Murray, Matt Slocum, Paul Sancya, Corey Sipkin

LONDON, Ont. – The sexual assault case against five former members of Canada’s world junior hockey team will return to court at the end of April.

Dillon Dube, Cal Foote, Alex Formenton, Carter Hart and Michael McLeod were not in court this morning for the case’s first appearance. Their lawyers appeared by video.

The players were charged with sexual assault late last month. A court document shows McLeod is facing an additional charge of sexual assault for “being a party to the offence.”

Lawyers for the players have said their clients will defend themselves against the allegations.

The charges relate to an alleged incident at a hotel in London, Ont., in June 2018. The case will be back in court April 30.

Later Monday, London police are scheduled to provide an update on their investigation.

The police probe was initially closed without charges months after the alleged incident but investigators reopened it in 2022.

Hockey Canada and the NHL, where four of the accused now play, also launched their own investigations.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week the league would wait until the criminal case has concluded before commenting. Hockey Canada has not issued an official statement on the charges.

Dube plays for the Calgary Flames, Hart for the Philadelphia Flyers, McLeod and Foote for the New Jersey Devils. Formenton previously played for the Ottawa Senators before joining a team in Switzerland. All have been permitted to go on indefinite leave.

Cases such as this one are part of a broader conversation about sports culture and masculinity, said Michael Kehler, a research professor of masculinities studies at the University of Calgary.

Sports culture has traditionally praised a certain type of masculinity focused on dominance, control and violence, he said. “For a long time, you know, the messaging within sport culture has been, ‘this is what it means to be successful, this is what it means to get praise and to get promoted,'” he said.

“Sport associations need to change the message and they need to do this in a way that points out that we need to have greater transparency, we need to have greater honesty, and we need to create safer spaces for sport.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2024.

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