Dave “Tiger” Williams, the former Toronto Maple Leafs professional hockey player, has been charged with sexual assault and assault after an incident on a military flight during a trip to visit Canadian troops in Latvia.
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service charged Williams with sexual assault and assault under the Criminal Code on Wednesday after Williams allegedly assaulted a steward on board the Airbus Polaris jet – which can seat around 200 people – in December 2017.
The steward reported the alleged incident during the flight and military police launched an investigation shortly after.
Global News has also been told several other stewards on board the aircraft refused to board the plane for the return flight if Williams was on board.
Officials from the Department of National Defence would not confirm whether Williams was flown back to Canada on a separate commercial aircraft or the report of other stewards refusing to board the plane.
While military police laid the charges, Williams will be processed through the civilian court system in Ottawa.
According to military officials, charges were laid by military police before a judge on Wednesday without Williams being present.
He was made aware of those charges and was ordered to report for arrest to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service on Friday, which he did.
He was then released with conditions applied by the civilian court that prevent him from contacting the alleged victim or consuming alcohol while he is released.
Williams, 64, was taking part in a visit to Canadian troops deployed to Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance, a NATO mission meant to deter Russian aggression in Eastern and Central Europe following its annexation of Crimea.
It appears he was allowed to play in a game with others during the trip.
The military regularly brings individuals such as Canadian actors, athletes or comedians to take part in holiday morale tours.
First drafted in 1974 by the NHL out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Williams played seven seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs before going on to join the Vancouver Canucks, the Detroit Red Wings, the Los Angeles Kings and the Hartford Whalers.
He retired in 1988 but has remained a prominent ambassador for the Maple Leafs in the decades since.
Brendan Shanahan, president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, told Global News in a statement the organization applauded the alleged victim for reporting but said there was not enough information available to comment further.
“We were just made aware of the charges against Mr. Williams, a member of our alumni association,” said Shanahan.
“First and foremost, we want to acknowledge the incredible courage of this woman for coming forward. As an organization, we stand firmly against all or any forms of physical and emotional assault. With so little information available to us at this moment, and out of respect for the necessary legal process, we will refrain from commenting any further at this time.”
A date for Williams to appear in court again has not been set.