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5 hockey players charged in Canada with sexual assault will have a jury trial

The five hockey players charged with sexual assault in Canada have asked for and been granted a trial by jury.

Daniel Brown, one of the lawyers representing former NHL player Alex Formenton , confirmed the request for a jury trial in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press.

“Earlier this week, all five players selected a trial by jury and they are confident that jurors drawn from the community will decide this case fairly and impartially after hearing all the evidence and testimony,” Brown wrote.

The Globe and Mail was first to report the step toward a jury trial. It was not immediately clear when the trial will begin, though a backlog of cases in Canada could push it well beyond 2024.

Formenton and current NHL players Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames and Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils are facing charges in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place in London, Ontario, in 2018. McLeod is facing an extra charge of being party to an offense.

Attorneys representing the players have said their clients would plead not guilty and defend themselves against the allegations. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 30.

London police two years ago reopened its investigation into the events of June 2018 , after word emerged that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit with a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by several members of the country's world junior team after a fundraising gala in the city between Toronto and Detroit. That led to charges being filed in January and the five players turning themselves in to police.

The NHL, which conducted its own parallel investigation, has said it will wait for the judicial proceedings to play out before taking any other steps. Hart, McLeod, Foote and Dube are each on a leave of absence from his respective team, and all are set to be free agents after this season.

Because of that, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is content to let the players be paid for the remainder of the season while away and their contracts expire, rather than issue suspensions.

“At this stage, the most responsible and prudent thing for us to do is await the conclusion of the judicial proceedings, at which point we will respond as appropriate at the time,” Bettman said in early February at All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

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