New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod has been charged with sexual assault by police in London, Ont., in connection to an incident that occurred in 2018, his lawyers confirmed to The Athletic on Tuesday.
“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,” the e-mailed statement from David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein read on Tuesday afternoon.
The statement indicated that McLeod denies any criminal wrongdoing and “will be pleading not guilty and will vigorously defend the case.”
The statement added, “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.”
McLeod is the second player to be publicly identified in the case after Alex Formenton’s lawyer confirmed the former Ottawa Senators player was charged by London police Sunday.
The Globe and Mail reported last week that five members of Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team were told to surrender to police to face sexual assault charges.
On Sunday, London police told The Athletic that they will “provide all updates” related to the case at a news conference scheduled for Feb. 5.
The Globe and Mail reported the pending charges are related to an alleged sexual assault of a woman by several players in a London hotel room on June 19, 2018, following a Hockey Canada Foundation event.
The allegations were made public in a lawsuit filed by the woman against Hockey Canada in April 2022. In the complaint, filed in Ontario Superior Court, the woman alleged she was assaulted by eight players in a hotel room after the foundation event. Members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team were among those accused of assault in the lawsuit.
One night in London: Allegations of sexual assault and a reckoning for Hockey Canada
Hockey Canada and the woman settled the lawsuit in May 2022.
After the lawsuit was made public, London police and Hockey Canada reopened their investigations into the incident, and the NHL launched an investigation as well. The initial investigation by London police was closed in February 2019, without charges being filed.
When reached for comment, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league won’t be making a statement “at this time.” The NHLPA also declined to comment.
Hockey Canada timeline: Major developments so far
The 25-year-old McLeod has appeared in 45 games for the Devils this season. Last week, the Devils issued a statement in which McLeod had requested and been granted an indefinite leave of absence from the team. The Devils declined to comment any further at that time and a request for comment Tuesday was not immediately returned.
(Photo: Rich Graessle / Getty Images)