Canada: Investigation charges former NHL player in alleged gruop rape. HOCKEY CANADA

A former of the National Hockey League (NHL) player has been charged by the Canadian police in connection with an alleged sexual assault involving eight members of the Canadian junior national team and a young woman in mid-2018.

A former player in the world's top ice hockey league, the NHL, has been charged by the Canadian police as part of an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of a young woman by eight players on the junior national team in 2018, his lawyers said. 

"The London police have charged several players, including Alex Formenton, in connection with an accusation made in 2018," the lawyers told the press, without giving details of the other athletes accused in the same incident. The incident under investigation is said to have taken place during the 2018 World Junior Championship in London, Ontario, Canada. 

The player, who currently plays in the Swiss league and is a former player of the Ottawa Senators, a franchise based in the Canadian capital that competes in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (the world's top professional league, consisting of teams from the United States and Canada), was charged following a reopened investigation by the London police in the province of Ontario in 2022. 

A total of eight players have been accused by a young woman of sexual assault in June 2018 during a gathering at a bar following a charity event attended by hockey players, where they consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication before committing the reported assaults. "Alex will vigorously defend his innocence and urges the public not to rush to judgement without hearing all the evidence," the defence team added.

Alex Formenton at the Canadian Tire Centre, on 4 October 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario. GETTY IMAGES
Alex Formenton at the Canadian Tire Centre, on 4 October 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario. GETTY IMAGES

Although the police have not commented on the matter, they have scheduled a press conference on the case for 5 February 2024. It is worth noting that the troubles for the Canadian Hockey Federation began in May 2022 when allegations surfaced that eight players from the 2018 junior national team had sexually assaulted a young woman as a group, sparking a scandal that shook the North American country. 

Instead of cooperating and reporting the incident, the country's hockey authorities tried to keep it under wraps and reached a confidential multi-million dollar settlement with the victim. According to AFP, the money was paid from a secret fund financed in part by fees paid by young Canadian hockey players. 

A few months later, the Canadian police reopened their investigation, and in October of that year, the federation announced the resignation of its president, Scott Smith, and its entire board. The Canadian government suspended public funding for the sport institution for 10 months, a sanction that was extended in April 2023.