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5 ex-Canadian world junior hockey players back in court in September on sexual assault charges

Five former Canadian world junior hockey players accused of sexual assault will make a court appearance this fall as their trial inches closer to starting.

At a virtual court appearance Tuesday in London, Ont., lawyers for the accused discussed logistics for the upcoming trial, including dates that require the players to attend.

Based on the availability of Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas, who will oversee the case, the group agreed to pretrial appearances on Sept. 5 and 6. This will mark the first time the accused will be required to be at a court hearing, after their lawyers participated in numerous others to organize the process for proceedings. 

Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Dillon Dubé of the Calgary Flames, Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers and former NHLer Alex Formenton all face one count of sexual assault. McLeod is also charged with one count of being party to the offence.

Four of the players, excluding Formenton, were under contract with NHL teams until the end of this season when they were charged and were technically on paid leave. 

The alleged incident happened inside a London hotel room in June 2018 following a Hockey Canada gala in the city after the world junior team had captured a gold medal.

A publication ban is in place to protect the identity of the woman as well as two witnesses. All of the players have pleaded not guilty and have requested a jury trial. 

A trial start date has not yet been set, but could be determined when the lawyers return for pretrial hearings on June 11.

"We are trying to minimize the number of court appearances," said David Humphrey, who was representing McLeod.

"It's envisioned that those [dates in September] are in-person appearances, but