Attorneys: NJ Devils’ McLeod, Foote among 4 NHL players charged in 2018 sexual assault case

Michael McLeod and Cal Foote, of the New Jersey Devils, have been charged in connection with an investigation into an alleged sexual assault by several members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team, their lawyers said Tuesday.
Among the other players charged are Carter Hart, of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Dillon Dube, of the Calgary Flames.
Attorneys representing Hart, McLeod, Foote and Dube said Tuesday that each player has been charged with sexual assault by police in London, Ontario. They denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.
Hart's lawyers, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said their client is facing one count of sexual assault, adding, “He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law.”
Legal teams representing McLeod and Dube said they would be pleading not guilty.
“(We) will vigorously defend the case,” McLeod's attorneys, David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a statement. "We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time.”
Dube's lawyers, Louis Strezos and Kayleigh Davidson, said he “maintains his innocence (and) will defend the allegations in court.”
Foote's lawyer, Julianna Greenspan, said her client was “innocent of the charge and will defend himself against this allegation to clear his name.”
“What is most critical at this time is the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial that everyone in Canada is entitled to,” Greenspan said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “As the matter is before the court, I ask that Cal’s and his family’s privacy be respected.”
Messages sent to the Flyers and Flames seeking comment were not immediately returned. A Devils spokesperson said the organization is aware of the reports and have been told to refer all inquiries to the league.
The NHL was not expected to address the situation Tuesday. Commissioner Gary Bettman is set to speak at the league’s upcoming All-Star Weekend.
The latest developments in the case come two days after former NHL player Alex Formenton surrendered to police to face charges. Attorney Daniel Brown said Formenton is innocent "and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence.”
All five players have taken leave from their current clubs over the past 10 days. Their agents have not spoken publicly since.
London police have scheduled a news conference for Monday to address the situation. A spokesperson for police told The Associated Press by email no updates on the investigation will be provided before the news conference.
London police launched their investigation in 2022 after it was disclosed that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit with a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight members of that gold medal-winning team at a gala. London is approximately halfway between Toronto and Detroit.
The NHL opened its own investigation in 2022 and has pledged to make those findings public. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly last week said the league would issue a statement if and when it is appropriate.
The Flyers said Hart requested and was granted a leave of absence for personal reasons. General manager Daniel Briere declined to provide details when asked follow-up questions related to the 25-year-old No. 1 goaltender’s departure.
"We will respond appropriately when the outcomes of the investigations are made public," Briere said.
The Devils did not give a reason when announcing McLeod and Foote were granted indefinite leaves of absence. McLeod, who turns 26 on Saturday, is in the middle of his fourth full season with the team, while Foote — son of former NHL player Adam Foote — has spent much of this season in the American Hockey League and appeared in four games for New Jersey.
The Flames said Dube was on indefinite leave to tend to his mental health. The 25-year-old has played in the NHL with Calgary since 2018.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.