2018 World Junior player Alex Formenton surrenders to London police – National
Former Ottawa Senators player Alex Formenton returned to London police headquarters on Sunday.
Formenton was spotted arriving at the station around 10:15 a.m. by a news camera operator amid reports of pending charges related to an alleged group sexual assault.
London police said it “will provide all updates at our press conference scheduled for Feb. 5, 2024,” in response to Global News’ request for confirmation of Formenton’s surrender.
“London Police have charged several players, including Alex Formenton, in connection with an accusation made in 2018. Alex will strongly defend his innocence and ask that people do not rush to judgment without hearing everything evidence,” Formenton’s attorney said in a statement to the Globe and Mail.
Hockey player Alex Formenton turned himself in to the London Police
The 24-year-old is one of five members of Canada’s 2018 World Juniors hockey team who have been told to surrender to police to face charges over the alleged attack in London, Ont, according to a report by The Globe.
The media report released Wednesday cited two sources with knowledge of the investigation who were not named because they were not authorized to speak on the case.
The players were given a set period of time to present themselves at London police headquarters, the Globe reported. Global News has not independently confirmed the Globe’s reporting.
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Several players who are members of the 2018 team have taken an indefinite leave of absence from their clubs in recent days, according to statements from their teams posted on the social media platform X and public comments. Those players are Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames and Formenton, who is currently playing in Switzerland.
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There was no confirmation that the leaves were related to the Globe report.
The reported pending charges stem from an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ont., in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala event.
News of the incident first broke in May 2022 after TSN reported that Hockey Canada was settling a civil lawsuit against the complainant. That report triggered a series of events, which included new investigations, as well as intense scrutiny focused on Hockey Canada that eventually led the entire board and leadership team to resign.
Foote’s agent previously told Global News in 2022 that his client was not involved in the alleged sexual assault. A lawyer for Hart said at the time that his client had not “committed any wrongdoing.” Dube’s agent said at the time that his client “did not engage in any wrongdoing.” Attempts to contact representatives for McLeod and Formenton were not returned.
Court documents first reported by the Globe and Mail in December and confirmed by Global News reveal that London police said they had “reasonable grounds” to believe five members of the 2018 team were involved in a group sexual assault.
The documents, while redacted in some parts, reveal the most detail from the police about the status of their investigation. At the time, London police asked a judge to approve a series of investigative measures, such as search warrants and production orders, related to their investigation.
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“I believe, for reasonable reasons, due to the totality of the circumstances that I will describe below, that (EM) was sexually assaulted. His visions at night were one that he understood and initially ( specific sexual act(s) with (Player #1). The (specific sexual act(s)) that occurred after that was not consensual,” Sgt. David Younan wrote in court documents at the time .
“I believe, when looking at the global view of the evidence, (EM) subjectively believed that he had no alternative but to engage in (specific sexual act(s)). Furthermore, I believe that each of the suspects knew or should have known that (EM) did not consent to the (specific sexual act(s)) in which each engaged.
Daphne Gilbert, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said if the players turned themselves in, they would be processed, fingerprinted and given the opportunity to consult with lawyers.
They then receive what’s called a disclosure, Gilbert explained, where they’re told what kind of evidence the police and Crown attorneys have and a general idea of what the case will look like.
From there, players can choose between cooperating, pleading guilty or going to trial, Gilbert said.
“It may take a long time to form the case, because even if the police do their investigation, the players don’t know what the case is that they still have to meet,” Gilbert told Global News, adding that it will likely be “at least a year” before the case goes to trial.
Talk about the charges against the 2018 World Juniors hockey team developing in 2022, almost two years before Formenton’s surrender. Gilbert said the lengthy process was likely due to London police being aware of the media coverage the case would get, meaning they wanted to make sure they “dotted every I and crossed every T” before announcing to the public.
“That’s an optimistic way of looking at the delay, which is because they’ve really strengthened their case and they feel confident that they can move forward,” he said.
In terms of testifying in a sexual assault case, Gilbert says it’s often a “he said, she said moment” about consent.
“You cannot have what is called substituted consent. Therefore, the player cannot consent to (EM’s) for sexual activity that occurs with other people. And if other people don’t talk to him at all, then they can’t be sure of his consent,” he said.
All players from the 2018 world junior team remain suspended by Hockey Canada and are ineligible to play, coach or otherwise participate in any Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities – including international competition – pending the completing the appeals process, the organization said.
-with files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea and Nathanial Dove
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