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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Police Offer Their Apologies to the Woman at the Heart of the 2018 Canadian Hockey League Sexual Assault Case

<p>A woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by five hockey players on Canada’s 2018 world junior team—four of whom are currently in the NHL—was publicly apologized to the London, Ontario, police chief on Monday. The apology was for the length of time it took to conclude an investigation into the case, which has rocked the sport for years.</p>
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<p>Chief Thai Truong will, however, need to take a lot longer to elaborate on why it took over six years to pursue charges and what caused the first investigation to be closed in 2019 before being reopened in 2022.</p>
<p>At a press conference attended by several media, Truong said, “I want to extend on behalf of the London Police service my sincere apology to the victim, to her family for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point.”</p>
<p>It shouldn’t have taken this long. We shouldn’t have to wait years and years to get to the conclusion we have today,” he said. “However, I promise you that I am very confident that this won’t happen again.”</p>
<p>Regarding the reason for the delay and the impact it had on his department, Truong stated time and time again that he was unable to discuss the specifics because they might jeopardize the case’s prosecution, which might involve calling witnesses who were a part of the first and second investigations.</p>
<p>The 45-minute press conference was the first that police in the fifth-largest city in Ontario, which is located about midway between Toronto and Detroit, has addressed the subject since charging the athletes who are said to have assaulted the lady in a downtown hotel room.</p>
<p>Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames, and former NHL player Alex Formenton are the players accused with one count each of sexual assault. In addition, McLeod is charged with “being a party to the offense,” which refers to helping another person carry out the violation, according to the police.</p>
<p>All five players’ attorneys have said that their clients are innocent and would fight the accusations. All of the players, who are on leave from their teams, turned themselves in to London police throughout the course of the previous week and were then released under unclear circumstances.</p>
<p>As is customary in instances of sexual assault, prosecutors secured an order shielding the name of the lady and two witnesses at a short video hearing on Monday that was attended only by lawyers. Additionally, defense lawyers will get “substantial” evidence in the coming days, according to prosecutor Heather Donkers. The next hearing was set on April 30.</p>
<p>The restarted investigation, according to Detective Sgt. Katherine Dann of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section, discovered reasonable and probable reasons to file the charges, which carry potential prison time if proven guilty.</p>
<p>Not included in the first probe, Dann managed the investigation after it was revived under the now-retired police chief Steve Williams. Certain material, according to her, “was not available when the investigation concluded in 2019.”</p>
<p>Like Truong, Dann was unable to provide many details, such as whether or not additional people might face charges. There were 22 players on the squad for 2018.</p>
<p>For years, the case has cast a shadow over Canadian hockey.</p>
<p>Following a charity banquet in London in June 2018, a lady filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada in 2022, claiming that eight players of the gold-medal winning world junior team had sexually assaulted her in a hotel room. Following the lawsuit’s settlement, Hockey Canada’s two hidden slush funds were discovered to be used for payments related to allegations of sexual assault and abuse.</p>
<p>In July 2022, London police launched an internal inquiry after ending their previous one in 2019. The NHL began its own inquiry at around the same time, but the findings are probably not going to be made public until the lawsuit is settled.</p>
<p>Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Friday at All-Star Weekend in Toronto, “At this point, the most responsible and prudent thing for us to do is wait for the conclusion of the judicial proceedings, at which point we will respond as appropriate at the time.”</p>
<p>According to Bettman, the league was made aware of the claims on May 26, 2022. He said that all of the players on that squad were interrogated by the NHL, and that the lady in question chose not to cooperate with the inquiry.</p>
<p>According to Hockey Canada, it has worked closely with London Police on the inquiry at all times.</p>
<p>Katherine Henderson, who was appointed president and CEO of Hockey Canada in July, stated, “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.”</p>

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