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Carter Hart one of players charged in sexual assault investigation, per reports

Carter Hart one of players charged in sexual assault investigation, per reports originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers goalie Carter Hart is one of five players from the 2018 Canadian world junior team facing sexual assault charges, according to a report Tuesday by TSN correspondent Rick Westhead.

Per the report, Hart, the Flames' Dillon Dube, the Devils' Michael McLeod and Cal Foote, and Alex Formenton, playing professionally in Switzerland, were told to surrender to London, Ontario police.

Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, of Savard Foy LLP, released the statement below Tuesday on behalf of Hart. It was also obtained by NBC Sports Philadelphia.

"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. Until then, we have no comment."

Citing personal reasons, Hart was granted an indefinite leave of absence from the Flyers on Jan. 23.

On Jan. 24, Robyn Doolittle of the Globe and Mail reported that five members of the 2018 Canadian world junior team were told to surrender, facing charges of sexual assault from an alleged incident in June 2018. Per Doolittle, Formenton turned himself in Sunday, ready to "vigorously defend his innocence."

Hart, Dube, McLeod, Foote and Formenton had all recently taken leaves of absence from their respective clubs.

Prior to Tuesday, there had been no word if Hart's leave of absence was related to the police investigation or the NHL's investigation into the allegations, stemming from an April 2022 lawsuit filed against Hockey Canada.

According to Westhead, all the players are expected to surrender and the allegations against them have not been proven. On Jan. 24, London police did not have an update on its investigation but said it anticipated holding a press conference Monday, Feb. 5, to share details.

There has been no update on the NHL's investigation.

"We will respond appropriately when the outcomes of the investigations are made public," Flyers general manager Danny Briere read in a statement Jan. 24. "The NHL has been very clear that teams should refer all investigation-related questions to them. In the meantime, members of the organization, including Flyers players, will not be commenting any further."

The lawsuit filed against Hockey Canada alleged that members of the 2018 under-20 world junior team sexually assaulted a young woman during June 2018 in London, Ontario. The lawsuit reached a settlement between Hockey Canada and the woman, according to a May 2022 story by Katie Strang of The Athletic.

The NHL opened an investigation in May 2022, stating it would "endeavor to determine the underlying facts and, to the extent this may involve players who are now in the NHL, we will determine what action, if any, would be appropriate."

In September 2022, Hart said he was "fully cooperating" and "respecting the process" with the NHL's investigation.

"I can't really talk about it right now," Hart said then. "I wish I could. … But that's all I can really say."

He reiterated those comments last April at his end-of-the-season press conference.

"I can't talk about it right now," Hart said. "I wish I could, but not until it’s over."

The 25-year-old was selected by the Flyers in the second round of the 2016 draft. Last October, he started in his fifth season opener for the Flyers. Hart has gone 12-9-3 this season with a 2.80 goals-against average, .906 save percentage and one shutout.

He's in the final year of a three-year, $11.937 million contract ($3.979 million average annual value) and is slated to be a restricted free agent in the offseason.

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