Update: Due to news surrounding both players, the headline and post has been updated accordingly.
Shortly after the initial post went live, Westhead stated on X that Michael McLeod has been charged with sexual assault. This meant he surrendered to the London, Ontario police. Westhead’s tweet included a statement from McLeod’s lawyers. The statement, from David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein of Greenspan Humphrey Weinstein, is as follows:
“We are the lawyers representing Mike McLeod. We can now confirm that more than five and a half years after EM’s initial complaint to police, the London Police Service has charged Mike McLeod with sexual assault. Mr. McLeod denies any criminal wrongdoing. He will be pleading not guilty and will vigorously defend the case. None of the evidence has been presented, let alone tested in court. 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.”
Later on in the evening, Westhead stated on X that Cal Foote has also been charged with sexual assault. As with McLeod, he has surrendered to the London, Ontario police. Westhead’s tweet included a statement from Foote’s lawyer, Julianna Greenspan of Greenspan Partners LLP. It is as follows:
“I can confirm that my client, Cal Foote, was charged with sexual assault. Cal is innoncent 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. As the matter is before the Court, I ask that Cal’s and his family’s privacy be respected. There will be no further comment at this time.
Both statements confirm what Westhead and others have reported. Both Michael McLeod and Cal Foote have now been charged with sexual assault. Additionally, Dillon Dube and Carter Hart have also been charged today and their respective lawyers released statements. All four statements have stated that the player is either innocent or will plead not guilty. This all followed after Rick Westhead reported at TSN which five players were called to surrender to the London, Ontario police to face charges. The fifth player called to surrender was Alex Formenton, who has already surrendered to the London, Ontario police two days ago.
The London, Ontario police will provide more details and clarity as to the next steps forward on Monday, February 5. They are going to hold a press conference regarding the sexual assault investigation on that day and it will be streamed on Facebook LIVE (via TSN). Beyond that, the case will go through the Canadian legal process. They will have a defense mounted by their lawyers. They will have their day in court. They will be sentenced based on how the Canadian courts rule. Whatever it is will be what it is. This a serious crime that McLeod and Foote are about surrender to the police for. The hockey is the least important part in all of this. To be clear, though, McLeod and Foote are not expected to return until there is a legal resolution.
Ryan Novozinsky of NJ.com reached out to the New Jersey Devils for any comment; and they had no comment outside of what they stated last week when McLeod and Foote took their indefinite leave of absence. This news and its updates this evening answers the question of who and when will there be charges. The charges are about an alleged incident in June 2018 in London, Ontario where multiple members of Canada’s World Junior team sexually assaulted someone at a party. Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and the eight alleged members involved settled the civil matter. TSN reported this settlement in May 2022, which ignited a public outcry of Hockey Canada’s use of for settling sexual assault lawsuits. In addition to the backlash and fallout at Hockey Canada, this spurred the London, Ontario police to re-open the criminal investigation the alleged incident. (As did the NHL and Hockey Canada with their own investigations.) Per Westhead’s article about the order to surrender, the London, Ontario police suspected in their filing that five members may have committed the crime they were investigating.
As the Canadian legal process begins for these charges, there are further questions. Namely, what did each player’s teams know? If they knew anything, what was it and when? Formenton was a former Ottawa Senator, McLeod and Foote were New Jersey Devils, Carter Hart was a Philadelphia Flyer, and Dillon Dube was a Calgary Flame. Questions will be asked of management of those teams during each player’s tenure about this. Both internally and publically.
It is entirely possible that they did not know anything. For example, take Cal Foote. Per Ken Campbell, formerly of The Hockey News, Foote’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, claimed that Foote was not involved back in May 2022. That may not actually be the case, but Campbell was just passing on what the agent said. It is possible Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald had no reason to question this. It is also possible the agents did not know about this ahead of time either. Those charged may have not shared any information with anyone. As per Emily Kaplan of ESPN on X, some of the players were directed by their lawyers to not tell their teams about potential charges. Still, those questions will need to be asked - if they have not already.
To emphasize: given the legal nature of this situation, there really is no room for discussion. Again, the Canadian legal process is the process that will be followed. McLeod, Foote, Hart, and Dube have been charged for sexual assault. Barring any further developments, the next update will come from the police on this coming Monday in their press conference. Then the case will continue to the court system. To that end, comments will be closed.