NHL commissioner faces media before players appear in court on sexual assault charges

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to address the media this afternoon as five current and former NHL players are accused of sexual assault in London, Ontario. Preparing to appear in court on Monday.

New Jersey Devils player Michael McLeod faces two counts of sexual assault. Police charged McLeod with committing and accessory to the crime, according to court documents. His teammate Cal Foote was also charged with sexual assault.

The Devils re-signed McLeod and Foote last summer to one-year contracts worth a combined $2.2 million.

Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dillion Dube of the Calgary Flames, and former Ottawa senator Alex Formenton, who now plays in Switzerland, have also been charged, according to court documents.

The players’ lawyers say they have denied any wrongdoing and will plead not guilty.

The charges are related to an alleged gang sexual assault by players from Canada’s 2018 World Junior Team. Police allege the incident occurred in a players’ hotel room after the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala and Golf Party on June 19, 2018.

The woman at the center of the accusations, known only in court documents as “EM,” filed a $3.5-million lawsuit that Hockey Canada settled.

The settlement rocked the sports world and parents were outraged to learn that their registration fees had paid for the settlement without their knowledge, along with other settlements over the years linked to multi-million-dollar sexual abuse allegations.

London Police, Hockey Canada and the NHL have launched separate investigations into the alleged 2018 sexual assault.

Five men were photographed in a boat
From left to right: Dillon Dobie, Cal Foote, Michael McLeod, Carter Hart and Alex Formenton. (USA Today Sports/Reuters; Getty Images; Associated Press; Getty Images; USA Today Sports/Reuters)

Bettman said more than a year ago that his league hit was in its “home run” and nearing “really close to the end.” He also said it was “complicated” to reach those involved “in a timely manner” without subpoena power.

The NHL has not yet announced the results of its investigation to the public. The NHL did not respond to CBC News’ request last week for an update on the status of the investigation.

The five players allegedly involved in the case requested and obtained leaves of absence from the National Hockey League and European teams last month before being handed over to police.

London police are scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday about the investigation, which it initially closed in 2019 without bringing charges, only to reopen it in 2022 after a public outcry.

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