Canadian authorities investigating a claim that eight athletes committed sexual assault as a group in 2018 have filed charges against former National Hockey League (NHL) player Alex Formenton, his lawyers said Sunday.
The new charges are the latest in a major scandal related to the claim, first revealed in 2022, which has since seen resignations of the Canadian hockey federation’s leadership and a temporary suspension of its public funds.
Police in London, Ontario “have charged several players, including Alex Formenton, in connection with an accusation made in 2018,” his lawyers said in a statement carried by several Canadian media. It did not divulge the others named in the suit.
Formenton, who currently plays professional hockey in Switzerland, was previously on the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
The police department refused to comment when contacted by AFP on Sunday, but have scheduled a press conference on the case for February 5.
In May 2022, Hockey Canada was rocked by press revelations accusing it of trying to cover up an alleged gang rape case involving eight players on the 2018 national junior team.
A young woman, who remained anonymous in court documents, claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a London hotel in southwestern Ontario after a Hockey Canada gala in June 2018.
The federation allegedly sought to keep the incident quiet, reaching a confidential multi-million dollar agreement in 2022 with the victim.
The settlement was paid via a secret fund — one that was supported in part by fees paid by young Canadian hockey players.
The backlash was swift, fueled further by weeks of denial and obfuscation by federation officials, triggering sponsors and the government to take action.
Police reopened the investigation into the claim in July 2022.
Formenton’s lawyers said he “will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence.”