Former NHL player faces sexual assault charges in Canada

A former National Hockey League player has been charged with sexual abuse in Canada, his lawyer has confirmed, the latest development in a case that has rocked the Canadian sports governing body and angered people across the country.

Four more players are expected to turn themselves in to police in London, Ontario, in the coming days report in The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper.

“The Metropolitan Police have charged several players, including Alex Formenton, in connection with an allegation dating back to 2018,” Formenton’s lawyer, Dan Brown, said in an emailed statement. “Alex will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all the evidence.”

Mr Brown’s statement did not specify what his client was accused of.

After playing for the Ottawa Senators in the NHL, the 24-year-old Formenton moved to Switzerland to play for a professional team, Hockey Club Ambri-Piotta. The club, in a rack Last Wednesday, Mr Formenton said he could return to Canada indefinitely for personal reasons.

The sexual abuse allegation was reported to police in 2018, when the players were still part of the Canadian national junior team. The allegations have caused a huge outcry over the years, even in a sport with a long history of similar accusations.

It led to a clean slate for the board and leadership of Hockey Canada, the sport’s national umbrella organization. It caused an exodus of sponsors, cut government funding for the sport, triggered a parliamentary inquiry and drew sharp criticism from the public and politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

As members of the national junior team, the accused players won the 2018 World Junior Championship. Their high profiles amplified the public response to the sexual assault allegations. The junior championships are a television viewing ritual in Canada, second only to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in terms of ratings among annual sporting events.

The woman who made the accusation reported that she was sexually assaulted in June 2018, following a Hockey Canada fundraising gala in London, Ontario. Police in the city initially investigated the allegation in 2018, but dropped that investigation in 2019 without filing any charges.

The fuss died down until May 2022, when TSN, a sports television network, reported that Hockey Canada had paid 3.5 million Canadian dollars, or $2.6 million. settle a lawsuit of the woman, identified in the lawsuits as “EM”

She said in the April 2022 lawsuit that the episode occurred after she was introduced to the men at a bar and that she was sexually assaulted by eight team members for several hours after the 2018 gala. It is unclear whether the other accused team members will face criminal charges.

Public outrage was further fueled after The Globe and Mail reported in July 2022 that the settlement had been reached cash came from a fund generated from hockey registration fees, including for children.

The fund, Hockey Canada acknowledged, was used to pay an additional CAD$7.6 million, or $5.65 million, to settle nine claims of sexual abuse and sexual assault since 1989. Additional allegations of sexual abuse involving a 2003 junior national team emerged in 2022.

London police resumed their investigation in 2022, following news of the lawsuit settlement.

Hockey Canada and the NHL have also each conducted investigations, but have not yet released their findings.

In a post on X, Pascale St-Onge, who was federal minister of sport in 2022, said that “The Canadians were outraged and shocked to see this story and others like it. It is gratifying to see this process moving forward.”

She added: “We all look forward to seeing justice done. Victims need to be heard.”

Miles Bolton contributed reporting from London, Ontario.

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