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Barrie man among 2018 World Junior Hockey Team players named in sexual assault investigation

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A Barrie man named in a sexual assault case involving five members of Canada's 2018 World Junior Hockey Team surrendered to London, Ont. police on Sunday with his lawyer at his side.

Barrie-born Alex Formenton spent his childhood in York Region, having played with the Aurora Tigers in 2015.

The 24-year-old is a former London Knights player and Ottawa Senators prospect who has been playing in Switzerland since the NHL team decided not to re-sign him in 2022.

Formenton is believed to be the first of five to turn himself in over sexual assault allegations dating back to June 2018 when a woman says she was victimized by five members of Team Canada inside a London hotel room.

Globe and Mail first reported last week that police in London requested the accused men to come forward to be charged - six years since the initial complaint was made to the authorities. At that time, no charges were laid.

Former OPP commissioner and CTV's public safety analyst Chris Lewis said these types of investigations are "challenging."

"Because often it's a he-said-she-said situation unless other people were either witnesses or, in fact, video shows something with validity or other people were at least told at the time," Lewis explained.

The complainant filed a civil lawsuit two years ago alleging she met a group of young men at a bar following a Hockey Canada gala and had consensual sex with one of the players. She also alleges seven others entered the hotel room and directed, manipulated and intimidated her into remaining in the room where she said she was sexually assaulted.

London Police Service confirmed it was first made aware of the claims just days after the alleged sexual assault took place.

Longtime Barrie criminal defence lawyer Mitch Eisen told CTV News it's not unusual for the police to reinvestigate if new information has been unveiled.

"That seems to be what the case may be here in relation to these charges pending in London," Eisen said on Monday, adding the counsel will likely request disclosure from the Crown once charges are laid.

"The Crown Attorney's office must provide disclosure both of the original investigation and the updated investigation, and if they have the Hockey Canada investigation in their file, then that would be provided as well," he noted.

Formenton's lawyer, Daniel Brown, confirmed his client is one of several players facing impending charges and said the 24-year-old would "vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence."

The allegations against the accused have not been tested in court.

London Police Service has previously announced a press conference is scheduled to take place next week.

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