Several current and former NHL players have been charged in relation to an alleged sexual assault involving members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior Championship team. The charges come years after the alleged incident, sparking questions around Hockey Canada’s handling of assault claims.
Players Directed to Surrender on Sexual Assault Charges
Law enforcement officials have directed NHL players Carter Hart, Michael McLeod, Cal Foote and Dillon Dube to surrender on sexual assault charges by February 10th. The charges relate to an incident that allegedly occurred in June 2018 in London, Ontario involving members of Canada’s World Junior team after they won the gold medal.
While few details have emerged, the players’ lawyers stated that their clients maintain their innocence and will plead not guilty. They criticized the lack of due process and “failure to safeguard basic procedural protections” for their clients. The lawyers stated that they will vigorously defend their clients’ right to fair treatment in defending themselves against what they termed “unproven allegations.”
Teams Grant Temporary Leaves of Absence
The Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames have granted temporary leaves of absence to Carter Hart, Michael McLeod and Dillon Dube respectively. Hart and McLeod will not participate in team activities pending the resolution of the charges against them.
The Flames faced criticism for announcing Dube was stepping away to focus on his “mental health.” Victims rights advocates argued framing sexual assault charges primarily from the perspective of the alleged perpetrators’ health sends the wrong message and contributes to the normalization of sexual violence in sports culture.
“These teams need to stop protecting players and start showing real accountability,” said Jane Roe of Survivors Speak. “Saying a player charged with sexual assault just needs a mental health break is an insult to victims.”
Timeline of Key Events
The charges cap over a year of escalating scandal for Hockey Canada over its handling of sexual assault claims. The table below summarizes key events:
|Alleged sexual assault occurs involving unnamed players from Canada’s World Junior team
|Woman files $3.5 million lawsuit against Hockey Canada over alleged assault
|Hockey Canada settles lawsuit, agreeing to pay undisclosed sum
|TSN reports undisclosed settlement, sparking public criticism
|Canadian government launches investigation into Hockey Canada’s handling of case
|Further allegations emerge of Hockey Canada mishandling sexual assault claims, loosing sponsors
|Police obtain court orders identifying players charged
|January 30, 2023
|Michael McLeod, Carter Hart, Cal Foote and Dillon Dube directed to surrender on sexual assault charges
While the identities of the involved players were initially undisclosed, law enforcement obtained court orders in late January permitting them to identify and charge four current NHL players who were on the 2018 World Junior roster.
Canada Grapples With Hockey’s Toxic Culture
The scandal has sparked a national reckoning in Canada around toxic aspects of hockey culture and sexual violence. Prime Minister Trudeau stated “we all have some reflections to make about how such behavior could have been allowed to carry on seemingly with impunity for so long.”
Victims advocates have argued that the scandal reflects deep seated problems with how assault claims are handled within Canada’s hockey establishment to protect leading players and organizations. They argue justice has been denied to survivors for years through secret settlements and silencing tactics.
“This case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to abuse in Canadian hockey,” said Roe. She urged authorities to conduct a full independent investigation of Hockey Canada’s practices.
While the charges mark an advance for victims, tough legal battles await as the players vowed to vigorously contest the allegations against them. Some experts predict resolution could take years, while the broader cultural reckoning appears just beginning for hockey as the national winter sport of Canada.
“These charges are an important first step, but the hard work remains of transforming toxic aspects of hockey culture,” said John Smith, a sports ethics professor. “Ending abusive practices requires sustained pressure from authorities and sponsors demanding real change.”
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