5 former world junior hockey players charged with sexual assault choose jury trial

By The Canadian Press

Five former members of Canada’s world junior hockey team who are charged with sexual assault in a 2018 incident in London, Ont., have chosen to be tried by a jury.

Dillon Dube, Carter Hart, Michael McLeod, Cal Foote and Alex Formenton were charged with sexual assault last month. McLeod is also facing an additional charge of sexual assault for “being a party to the offence.”

In a joint statement, their lawyers said the five players selected a jury trial earlier this week and are “confident that jurors drawn from the community will decide this case fairly and impartially after hearing all the evidence and testimony.”

The charges in the case relate to an alleged incident at a hotel in London in June 2018, after members of the world junior team celebrated a gold-medal win.

The investigation was initially closed without charges in 2019 but it was reopened in 2022. London’s police chief apologized to the complainant earlier this month for the delay in laying charges in the case.

Jury trials are available to those accused of the most serious crimes, known as indictable offences, such as murder. They may also be an option for those accused of so-called hybrid offences, such as sexual assault.

The case is due back in court April 30.

The NHL, which conducted its own parallel investigation, has said it will wait for the judicial proceedings to play out before taking any other steps. Hart, McLeod, Foote and Dube are each on a leave of absence from his respective team, and all are set to be free agents after this season.

Because of that, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is content to let the players be paid for the remainder of the season while away and their contracts expire, rather than issue suspensions.

“At this stage, the most responsible and prudent thing for us to do is await the conclusion of the judicial proceedings, at which point we will respond as appropriate at the time,” Bettman said in early February at All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

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