4 NHL players, 1 ex-player charged in 2018 sexual assault accusation, lawyers say

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Four current NHL players have been charged with sexual assault, their attorneys and a team statement confirmed Tuesday, and a former NHL player turned himself in in connection with a sexual assault accusation made in 2018.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ Carter Hart and the New Jersey Devils’ Cal Foote and Michael McLeod, all 25, were charged, the players’ legal representatives said. Fellow 25-year-old Dillon Dubé, of the Calgary Flames, was also charged, the team said in a statement.

Ex-NHL player Alex Formenton turned himself in to Canadian police Sunday after he was charged.

In 2022, an Ontario woman sought $3.55 million in damages through a civil case against seven players from Canada's 2018 world junior ice hockey team, alleging that they sexually assaulted and abused her, according to Ontario Superior Court of Justice records. The players in the suit were identified only as “John Doe.” The woman dropped the suit after she reached a settlement with the defendants in May 2022, according to her lawyer.

London police declined to comment on the renewed investigation Tuesday but said they will host a news conference about the case next week.

Police have until the day of the first court appearance to file the charges, a representative for the attorney general’s ministry said.

A law firm representing Hart confirmed in a statement Tuesday that he had been charged with one count of sexual assault, while denying the accusations.

“We act for Carter Hart and confirm he has been charged with one count of sexual assault. He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false allegation in the proper forum, a court of law,” the statement read.

A lawyer representing Foote issued a statement confirming a sexual assault charge against him and similarly denied the allegations.

“Cal is innocent of the charge and will defend himself against this allegation to clear his name. What is most critical at this time is the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial that everyone in Canada is entitled to,” Julianna Greenspan said in the statement.

McLeod's legal representatives also denied the allegations in a statement, and said he will plead not guilty and "will vigorously defend the case."

In a statement, the Calgary Flames said they were aware of a sexual assault charge filed against Dubé. The team said it "takes this matter very seriously," but would not have further comment "at this time." Lawyers for the player said he “maintains his innocence (and) will defend the allegations in court," NBC Sports reported.

The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail reported last Wednesday that five members of the 2018 team were told to surrender to Ontario police. NBC News has not independently confirmed the number of players charged in the current investigation.

Formenton, 24, who played for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators in 2017, took an indefinite leave of absence from the Swiss hockey club Ambrì-Piotta last Wednesday. His legal team did not comment on which charges Formenton faces from police in London but confirmed the leave was in relation to the 2018 allegation.

“Alex will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence,” Daniel Brown, one of the attorneys representing Formenton, said in a statement Tuesday.

Like Formenton, Hart, Foote, McLeod and Dubé took indefinite leaves of absence amid reporting about the investigation. In the team statement, the Flames said they were not aware of pending charges against Dubé before granting his leave of absence.

The NHL said it would not comment on any of the charges. Representatives for Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League did not respond to requests for comment.

NBC News has not confirmed whether the four other players on leave are the ones who have been asked to surrender to police. Their agents did not respond to phone calls or emails about the investigation.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com