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Hockey player Alex Formenton, who faces a sexual assault charge, walks into police headquarters in London, Ont., accompanied by high-profile criminal defence lawyers Daniel Brown and Lindsay Board on Jan. 28.Nicole Osborne/The Globe and Mail

Former National Hockey League player Alex Formenton turned himself in to police in London, Ont., on Sunday morning to face a charge of sexual assault in connection with allegations that five members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team attacked a woman in a hotel.

Mr. Formenton, who had been playing in Switzerland until he took a leave of absence from his club last week for “personal reasons,” arrived at police headquarters flanked by high-profile criminal defence lawyers Daniel Brown and Lindsay Board.

“The London Police have charged several players, including Alex Formenton, in connection with an accusation made in 2018. Alex will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence,” Mr. Formenton’s legal team said in a statement.

The Globe and Mail reported last week that, according to two sources, London police have instructed five members of the 2018 junior team to surrender to them in advance of criminal charges stemming from an alleged group sexual assault five and a half years ago. The Globe did not identify the sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Mr. Formenton, 24, is the first of the group to be publicly identified.

Who are the 2018 world junior players charged with sexual assault?

The five players are accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a downtown London hotel in the early morning hours of June 19, 2018, after the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf.

The complainant, a woman identified as E.M. in court documents, met some of the players at a downtown bar after the event. She told police she eventually left the bar with one of the men and they had consensual sex in his hotel room. But afterward, E.M. alleged that the player invited his teammates to the room without her knowledge.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

It is not clear if any of the remaining four players have surrendered to police and a London police spokesperson declined to comment.

“We will provide all updates at our press conference scheduled for February 5, 2024,” Constable Matthew Dawson said.

Lawyers who have previously identified themselves as being involved in the case did not return e-mails Sunday. These lawyers have earlier denied wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.

Mr. Formenton was taken by the Ottawa Senators in the second round, 47th overall, in the 2017 NHL draft. He signed an entry-level contract worth US$2.85-million, according to, and went on to play 109 NHL games across four seasons with the Senators. Mr. Formenton had a career-high 32 points in 79 games with the Senators in 2021-22. But in December, 2022, he signed with the Swiss club, HC Ambri-Piotta, after failing to reach an agreement on a new contract with Ottawa.

Months earlier – when questions were being raised about why the Senators had still not re-signed Mr. Formenton – The Athletic asked then-general manager Pierre Dorion if the sexual-assault allegations connected to Mr. Formenton’s 2018 junior team had anything to do with it.

“With all due respect, I think they’re totally two different things,” Mr. Dorion said. “One’s a contract issue and the other is a Hockey Canada issue that I can’t comment on until the NHL investigation is over.”

Shortly after Mr. Formenton signed with the Swiss team, The Globe revealed that London police had filed a 94-page document with the Ontario Court of Justice in October, 2022, seeking approval for various investigative measures. The filing, which redacted the names of the players, indicated police felt there were reasonable grounds to believe that five members of the 2018 junior team had committed sexual assault in connection to the hotel incident.

This is the second time that the London police have investigated the hotel incident. An initial probe closed without charges in February, 2019. Court records show the lead detective did not believe there was enough evidence to proceed.

But three years later, TSN reported that Hockey Canada had quietly settled a $3.55-million lawsuit brought by E.M. against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and eight unnamed players in connection to the alleged attack. The story ignited a national firestorm, triggering parliamentary hearings, as well as two internal probes by the NHL and Hockey Canada.

Amid the renewed scrutiny, London police reopened the case in July, 2022.

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