Toronto, Canada, Feb 5 (EFE). – The trial of five professional hockey players accused of gang-raping a woman in 2018 while participating in the World Junior Hockey Championship as members of the Canadian national team, began Monday in a Canadian court.
Four of the players (Michael McLeod, Cal Foote, Dillon Dubé, and Carter Hart) currently play for teams in the NHL, North America’s professional hockey league, and the fifth, Alex Formenton, plays in the Swiss professional league after a stint in the NHL.
The woman, whose identity is protected by a court order, accused all five of rape.
The case sparked major controversy in Canada when it was revealed that Hockey Canada tried to bury the case with an out-of-court settlement in which it offered the victim money to drop the case.
The case also revealed that Hockey Canada had acted similarly in other cases in which youth players allegedly participated in gang rapes.
Following newspaper allegations about Hockey Canada’s actions, major sponsors withdrew their funding from the association, and its top executives were forced to resign.
According to legal documents, the victim met several players at a bar in London, about 200 kilometers southwest of Toronto, during the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships in the Canadian city.
That night, the woman had consensual sex with one of the players at a hotel. But without her consent, the player then invited others into the room to have sex with the young woman.
After the initial hearing in a London court, which lasted only 15 minutes and was not attended by the defendants, London Police Commissioner Thai Truong held a press conference to publicly apologize to the victim for the years it took the police to charge the players.
London police initially dropped the investigation in 2019, citing insufficient evidence. That decision was reviewed in 2022, leading to the reopening of the case and the appointment of a new team of investigators who decided to charge the five players.
The case will be reopened on April 30 so that defense lawyers can review the “substantial” amount of evidence in the investigators’ possession, which includes audio and video evidence. EFE