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2018 World Junior player Alex Formenton surrenders to London police

Click to play video: 'Ex-NHL player turns himself in after sexual assault allegations'
Ex-NHL player turns himself in after sexual assault allegations
WATCH: Professional Canadian hockey player Alex Formenton turned himself over to police in London, Ont., on Sunday. The former Ottawa Senators left winger was seen entering the police station around noon. This comes as the latest in the ongoing investigation into allegations that members of the 2018 World Junior team sexually assaulted a woman. On Thursday, five players, including Formenton, were asked to turn themselves in to the police regarding the allegations – Jan 28, 2024

Former Ottawa Senators player Alex Formenton turned himself into London police headquarters Sunday.

Formenton was seen arriving at the station around 10:15 a.m. by a news camera operator amid reportedly anticipated charges in relation to an alleged group sexual assault.

London police says 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.

“The London Police have charged several players, including Alex Formenton, in connection with an accusation made in 2018. Alex will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence,” Formenton’s lawyer said in a statement to the Globe and Mail.

Click to play video: 'Hockey player Alex Formenton turns himself in to London Police'
Hockey player Alex Formenton turns himself in to London Police

The 24-year-old is one of five members of Canada’s 2018 World Juniors hockey team told to surrender to police to face charges for the alleged assaults in London, Ont, according to a report by The Globe.

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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 reporting.

Click to play video: 'Hockey Canada faces reckoning over arrests in alleged 2018 sex assault'
Hockey Canada faces reckoning over arrests in alleged 2018 sex assault

Several players who were members on the 2018 team have taken indefinite leaves of absence from their clubs over recent days, according to statements from their teams posted on the social media platform X and in 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 now plays in Switzerland.

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There is no confirmation that the leaves are related to the Globe report.

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The reportedly anticipated charges stem from an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ont., in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala event.

News of the event first broke in May 2022 after TSN reported Hockey Canada had settled a civil lawsuit with the complainant. That report triggered a series of events, which included renewed 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 his client was not involved in the alleged sexual assault. A lawyer for Hart at the time said his client had not “engaged in any wrongdoing.” Dube’s agent said at the time his client “did not engage in any wrongdoing.” Attempts to contact representatives for McLeod and Formenton went unanswered.

Court documents first reported by the Globe and Mail last December and confirmed by Global News revealed London police said they have “reasonable grounds” to believe five members of the 2018 team were involved in a group sexual assault.
The documents, while redacted in parts, revealed the most detail yet from police about the state of their investigation. At the time, London police asked a judge to approve a series of investigative measures, like search warrants and production orders, related to their probe.

“I believe, on reasonable grounds, given the totality of the circumstances that I will describe below, that (E.M.) was sexually assaulted. Her perceptions of the evening were one in which she understood and initially (specific sexual act(s)) with (Player #1). The (specific sexual act(s)) that occurred after that was non-consensual,” wrote Sgt. David Younan in the court documents at the time.
“I believe, when taking a global view of the evidence, (E.M.) subjectively believed that she had no alternative but to engage in the (specific sexual act(s)). Further, I believe that each of the suspects knew or ought to have known that (E.M.) had not consented to the (specific sexual act(s)) in which each engaged.”
Daphne Gilbert, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, says when the players turn themselves in, they’ll be processed, fingerprinted and given an opportunity to consult with lawyers.

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They will then receive what is called disclosure, Gilbert explains, where they’re told what kind of evidence the police and the Crown attorney have and a general idea of what the case will look like.

From there, the players will be able to make choices around cooperating, pleading guilty or going to trial, Gilbert says.
“It could take quite a while for for the case to take shape, because although the police have been doing their investigation, the players don’t know what the case is that they have to meet yet,” Gilbert told Global News, adding that it will probably be “at least a year” before the case goes to trial.
Talk around charges against the 2018 World Juniors hockey team ramped up in 2022, nearly two years before Formenton’s surrender. Gilbert says the lengthy process is likely due to the London police’s awareness of the media coverage the case would garner, meaning they wanted to make sure they “dotted every I and crossed every T” before going public.

“That’s an optimistic way of looking at the delay, that it’s because they have really solidified their case and they feel confident that they can move forward,” she said.

In terms of proving a sexual assault case, Gilbert says it’s often a “he said, she said moment” regarding consent.

“You cannot have what’s called substituted consent. So, player one can’t consent on (E.M.’s) behalf for sexual activity that happens with other people. And if those other people didn’t actually speak to her, then they couldn’t have ascertained her consent,” she said.

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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 events — including international competition — pending the completion of the appeal process, the organization said.

–with files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea and Nathanial Dove

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