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Lawyers for 5 former world junior players accused of sexual assault appear in court

Lawyers appeared in court for the first time via video conference Monday morning in a high-profile sexual assault case with charges laid against five former members of Canada’s world junior hockey team.

Police will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. EST., which will be streamed live on CTVNews.ca and the CTV News app. This article will be updated as information becomes available.

Carter Hart, Michael McLeod, Dillon Dube, Cal Foote and Alex Formenton all face sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged assault of a woman in 2018 in a London hotel room. McLeod is facing an additional charge of sexual assault for “being a party to the offence.”

No pleas were entered Monday morning. Lawyers for the players have said their clients will defend themselves against the allegations, and all five are expected to plead not guilty.

An investigation into the charges was initially closed months after the incident, but the case was reopened by police in 2022. Hockey Canada and the NHL both launched their own investigations parallel to the police probe.

The five players were part of Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team. The allegation at the centre of the case is that a sexual assault occurred following a Hockey Canada ceremony celebrating the players’ victory at that year’s tournament, according to court documents.

Four of the players, with the exception of Formenton, currently play hockey in the NHL. Hart plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, Dube plays for the Calgary Flames and McLeod and Foote play for the New Jersey Devils. Formenton previously played for the Ottawa Senators between 2017 and 2022, but is now with a team in Switzerland.

Late last month, the players took an indefinite leave of absence from their respective clubs and turned themselves into police.

In Monday’s court appearance, the Crown presented the case and said a “significant” amount of disclosure would be sent to the defence councils later in the day. Disclosure refers to the evidence against the defendants, which can include statements, video footage, forensic evidence and police records, among other documents.

The defence will get to choose whether the case is tried in an Ontario Court of Justice or a superior court. The next court date has been set for April 30 at 9:30 a.m. 

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