Former NHL player Alex Formenton turned himself in to police on Sunday in connection with an investigation into an alleged sexual assault by several members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team.
Formenton’s legal team confirmed to the Associated Press that police in London, Ontario, have charged Formenton and several other players. Lawyer Daniel Brown did not say what charge Formenton was facing.
Related: Canada police reportedly order hockey players to surrender over sexual assault allegation
“Alex will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence,” Brown said in a statemen.
Formenton is a former Ottawa Senators player who now competes in Europe. His Swiss team, HC Ambri-Piotta, said he was granted an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons and was allowed to return home to Canada.
London Police have scheduled a news conference for 5 February to address the situation and declined to comment further. Reached on Sunday, a spokesperson said police “will provide all updates at our press conference.”
In May 2022, it was reported that Hockey Canada paid an undisclosed settlement to a woman who alleged in a lawsuit she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the country’s world junior team, after a 2018 gala. Earlier in 2022, Hockey Canada executives told a parliamentary committee that the organization had secretly paid nearly C$9m (US$6.7m) to 21 complainants of sexual misconduct.
Media reports later revealed that young players across the country had unknowingly funded the payments through their registration fees to Hockey Canada. According to reporting by the Globe and Mail, Hockey Canada also failed to disclose to parliament the existence of a second secret fund to pay for legal efforts to fend off sexual assault claims.
Canada has been plagued by reports of abuse in a number of sports beyond hockey, including gymnastics, soccer and water polo.
“Abuse is a dirty hidden secret in sports and what people are seeing is the tip of the iceberg,” Kirsty Duncan, the former deputy leader of government in Canada’s House of Commons, told the Guardian last year.
Formenton, 24, played 109 games for the Senators from the 2017-18 season through 2021-22 before his contract was not renewed and he went overseas.