In a press conference Monday that failed to explain why it took six years for five players from Canada’s 2018 World Junior team to face sexual assault charges, London (Ont.) police chief Thai Truong and detective sergeant Katherine Dann gave updates on the investigation.
Truong and Dann declined to answer most questions from journalists about an incident that began on the evening of June 18, 2018, after members of the World Junior team celebrated their gold medal by drinking at Jack’s Bar in downtown London. At the bar, players met a 20-year-old woman, whom Truong and Dann referred to as “the victim.” From there the victim went to a player’s hotel room, where as many as eight Canadian Hockey League players—some of whom were also on the World Junior team—allegedly raped, battered and terrorized her during early morning hours.
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Sexual assault charges have been brought against five pro hockey players: Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart, New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod, Devils defenseman Cal Foote, Calgary Flames forward Dillon Dubé and former Ottawa Senators forward Alex Formenton. McLeod faces a second charge for “being a party” to the assault, meaning he’s accused of aiding and providing encouragement, but when asked for more details, Dann declined to elaborate.
Given that more than five players were allegedly involved in the assault, Dann was asked if additional charges are forthcoming. She suggested no, at least at this time, saying “we have laid charges for all the ones” for which there are “reasonable grounds” to charge. Dann also said there have been “varying levels” of cooperation from those who may have been around or witnessed the five accused players.
Truong emphasized he’s “apologizing to the victim and her family for this to have taken so long.” He added he is “not happy” that six years passed and underscored the victim has been fully cooperative.
Truong wasn’t the police chief in 2018 but said an initial investigation concluded without charges “due to insufficient grounds.” The case was then closed.
Truong and Dann, who noted she wasn’t aware of the incident until 2022, repeatedly declined to explain the failure to find sufficient grounds in 2018-19. They explained that in 2022, an administrative review of the original investigation and was conducted. It led to the gathering of new evidence and the finding of sufficient grounds.
When pressed by journalists for more information, Truong and Dann mostly refused, saying substantive responses might “jeopardize the ongoing case” and interfere with the prosecution. Their reticence reflected how discussing persons and materials connected to the alleged assault and the initial investigation might necessitate discussing potential witnesses and key evidence that will later be presented in court.
The five charged players are on leave from their teams. Through their attorneys, the players have denied the allegations.
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