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From Allegations to Charges: A Deep Dive into the Timeline of the 2018 World Junior Hockey Team Case
“To me, this is an investigation that involves a victim,” London Chief of Police Thai Truong said in his February 5th press conference.
“I’m not a hockey player. I don’t know anything about hockey. This is a sexual assault investigation.”
Five members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior Hockey team were asked to surrender to the London Police Service in late-January. On February 5th, 2024, the London Police confirmed that Michael McLeod, Carter Hart, Callahan Foote, Alex Formenton, and Dillon Dube were charged with one count of sexual assault each. Michael McLeod will face an additional party to the offense charge.
Each player surrendered to the police and the case will move through the court system. Legal representation for each player asserted their innocence.
To understand how an incident that is alleged to have occurred in 2018 is before the courts nearly six years later, it’s important to become familiar with the complex timeline of events.
June 17 2018 – Members of Team Canada’s 2018 World Junior team gathered in London, Ontario for a two-day Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf event
It was a fundraiser and celebration with players, Hockey Canada executives, sponsors, corporate partners, local business leaders, and more.
June 18 2018 – The night of the alleged sexual assault
“Members of the team continued the celebration and some attended Jack’s – a bar in downtown London. This is where they met the victim in the early morning hours of June 19th, 2018,” said London Police Service’s Detective Sergeant Katherine Dann.
“The victim attended the Delta London Armouries Hotel with one of the accused, the other four accused attended the same hotel and this is where the offense took place later that morning. Our service received a phone call from an individual related to the victim in this matter, seeking advice regarding a sexual assault. As a result of the information disclosed, the following day the report was assigned to the sexual assault and child abuse section. The caller was contacted for further information and the investigation commenced,” she added.
The Athletic reported that Hockey Canada officials became aware of the allegations that morning. The London police were notified that evening.
In the Athletic’s article “One night in London: Allegations of sexual assault and a reckoning for Hockey Canada,” detailed accounts from the victim’s statement of claim provide color to the allegations that will be tried before the courts in the upcoming legal proceedings.
“‘At one point, she started crying and tried to leave the room, she said. She was then “directed, manipulated and intimidated into remaining,” according to her statement of claim.
Throughout the alleged assaults, the young woman said she feared imminent physical harm. Some players brought their golf clubs into the room. The sheer number of them and the presence of the clubs made her feel intimidated and threatened. As a result, she said she acquiesced to the sexual acts.’”
While we don’t know all the specifics when it comes to the evidence that the London Police have collected to find “reasonable grounds to believe that five members of the 2018 team sexually assaulted a woman,” TSN reported that “two videos filmed with a cellphone during and after the incident, as well as 35 text messages sent between the alleged victim and one of the players” is among the collected evidence.
Henein Hutchison, a law firm and a representative from Hockey Canada’s insurance company, was brought on to complete a third-party investigation of the allegations. The findings of this initial investigation would be called upon later by Hockey Canada, law enforcement, and more.
February 6 2019 – Initial London Police investigation concluded without charges
London’s Chief of Police stated, “It was determined by investigators at that time that there were insufficient grounds to lay a charge.”
April 22 2022 – E.M. – an identifier used for the victim in the case – filed a civil suit with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice
It was settled in May 2022.
Rick Westhead reported on the lawsuit launched by the victim in April 2022. It was settled with Hockey Canada at the time, but it prompted Hockey Canada to reopen their investigation into the 2018 allegations.
“The plaintiff, identified in court records as “E.M.” asked a judge to award $3.55 million, including $2 million for past and future pecuniary damages, $1 million for punitive damages, $300,000 for pain and suffering, and $50,000 for mental and emotional stress,” Westhead wrote.
Westhead’s reporting in May 2022 affirmed the Athletic’s (July 2022) reports of the victim’s statement of claim:
“At times the plaintiff was crying and attempted to leave the room but was directed, manipulated and intimidated into remaining, after which she was subjected to further sexual assaults,” the lawsuit said.
“The plaintiff alleged that the actions of the players amounted to conspiracy because the players allegedly encouraged her to drink alcohol, isolated her from her friends, engaged in sexual acts with her, pressured her to not leave when she made an effort to do so, directed her to say that she was sober while being video recorded, and directed her to have a shower after the sexual assaults had concluded.”
July 14 2022 – Hockey Canada reopened Henein Hutchison’s investigation into the 2018 allegations
The Globe and Mail reported that Hockey Canada had kept a multimillion-dollar reserve known as the National Equity Fund to pay out settlements in cases involving sexual-assault allegations.
The fund was supported by registration fees without parents and players knowing.
July 20 2022 – The London Police Service launched an internal review of the investigation into the 2018 incident to explore additional investigative avenues
“The woman, known as E.M., told police in a written statement in July 2022 that she didn’t want to do what players made her do, that she tried to leave several times but the exit was blocked, that she was intoxicated and felt dissociated from everything, was unable to say no, and was fearful of players’ comments about using golf clubs in sexual acts, according to the document,” The London Free Press reported.
The London Free Press article outlines some examples of additional investigative measures that the police sought out including warrants to enter the hotel room of the alleged assault and access to thumb drives that allegedly contained text conversations between some of the players. This is when the London Police learned of a group chat and aimed to unveil its contents.
November 2022 – “An independent adjudicative panel was provided with Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP’s final investigative report” to determine if the players broke Hockey Canada’s code of conduct
It was immediately appealed and has been subject to the appeal process ever since. Hockey Canada announced the appeal in November 2023.
October 2022 – The Ontario Court Justice approved the London Police’s 94-page application for further investigative measures
Details of the 94-page application – provided by The Globe and Mail – have granted insight into details about the case: the group chat among players including an alleged message from a player inviting others to the hotel room, a two-hour video video statement from the complainant, and two videos from the night of the incident.
“The police filing also states that someone at Hockey Canada gave Player 1 a head’s up that the police had been contacted about the night’s events,” The Globe and Mail reported.
January 2024 – The Globe and Mail reported that five players from the 2018 team were asked to surrender to the London Police Service
February 5 2024 – London Police held a press conference with their Chief of Police, Thai Truong, and head of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section, Detective Sergeant Katherine Dann
The London Police confirmed that that Michael McLeod was charged with two counts of sexual assault, while Callahan Foote, Dillon Dube, Carter Hart, and Alex Formenton were charged with one count of sexual assault.
Each has surrendered to the police. Statements from their lawyers have come out, and each denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.
A transcript for the press conference can be found here.
April 30 2024 – Next hearing date
“The justice of the peace ordered a publication ban on the identity of the alleged victim and two witnesses in the case. Crown attorney Heather Donkers told the court that “substantial” paper and audio evidence collected by London police in connection with the case – [known] as disclosure – would be sent today by courier to the players’ lawyers,” Rick Westhead reported.
As the case moves through the court system, more information should come to light. London Chief of Police Thai Truong emphasized his commitment to answering many of the questions that remain unanswered when the appropriate time comes.
“I assure you that I will provide more information once these legal proceedings allow,” he began. “The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is a cornerstone of our justice system and it applies to the five accused. But right now, our organization is focused on supporting the victim and upholding the integrity of the criminal trial process.”
Information from the initial 2018 investigation has informed the current investigation.
“I want to extend on behalf of the London Police Service, my sincerest apology to the victim, to her family, for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point.
As a police officer working in this space for many, many years, I can tell you that this is a difficult situation for all victims and survivors of sexual violence.”Chief of Police Thai Truong
This timeline is possible because of the the dedicated coverage of several journalists.
To stay up to date on the movement of this case, be sure to check out journalists at the center of it all. Arduous reporting has been done by the following: