London Police chief apologizes to alleged victim for length of WJC team investigation
LONDON, Ont. — Nearly six years after a woman alleged she had been sexually assaulted by five then-members of Canada's World Junior hockey team, the police chief of a southwestern Ontario city offered an apology for how long it had taken for charges to be laid in the case.
Chief Thai Truong said there was much he could not reveal about why the police investigation that began in 2018 was initially closed without charges in 2019, before being reopened three years later.
But Truong said he, on behalf of the force, was extending his "sincerest apology" for the time it had taken for the case to reach its present point.
"This should not take this long," Truong said at a news conference Monday. "It shouldn't take years and years for us to arrive to the outcome of today."
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."
Lawyers for the players have said their clients will defend themselves against the allegations.
The charges in the case relate to an alleged incident at a hotel in London in June 2018.
During the brief hearing, prosecutors sought and obtained an order protecting the identity of the complainant, which is standard in sexual assault cases, as well as that of two witnesses.
Assistant Crown attorney Heather Donkers also said the players' lawyers would receive "substantial disclosure" in the next few days. Disclosure is the evidence collected by the prosecution against the accused.
The case will be back in court April 30.
Hockey Canada and the NHL, where four of the accused now play, had launched their own investigations into the case.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last week the league would wait until the criminal case has concluded before commenting. Hockey Canada has not issued an official statement on the charges.
Dube plays for the Calgary Flames, Hart for the Philadelphia Flyers, McLeod and Foote for the New Jersey Devils. Formenton previously played for the Ottawa Senators before joining a team in Switzerland. All have been permitted to go on indefinite leave.