Swedish NHLers to be re-investigated
3/3/2005 9:01:24 AM
STOCKHOLM (AP) - A special prosecutor plans to reopen an investigation into allegations that three Swedish NHL players sexually exploited a 22-year-old woman in their hotel room last month.
Kristian Huselius, 26, of the Florida Panthers, Andreas Lilja, 27, of the Nashville Predators and Henrik Tallinder, 26, of the Buffalo Sabres admitted having sex with the woman but claimed it was consensual.
Police dropped their investigation Feb. 11, a day after questioning the players, because prosecutors in Stockholm said there was not enough evidence to press charges.
But chief prosecutor Birgit Thunved, head of a new special unit that oversees violent crimes and sex crimes, said Thursday that police dismissed the case too quickly. She said she will send the case back to prosecutors in Stockholm.
"I think they moved a little too fast, I think they should have done a little more," Thunved said.
She said the players are not suspected of rape, but of sexual exploitation, which is a lesser form of sex crime under Swedish law.
"There's no evidence of any violence, so I don't think the rape suspicion holds up," she said.
Thunved also criticized investigators for questioning the woman only once, and not giving her adequate counsel.
Prosecutor Peter Broberg stressed the reopened investigation does not necessarily mean the players will be charged.
"(Prosecutors) could make the same decision again, to drop the investigation, but then at least they will have better a better basis for that decision," Broberg said.
If the players are charged and convicted, they could face up to two years in prison, he said.
The woman has told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that she agreed to follow the players to the hotel room after meeting them in a downtown Stockholm bar. She said she blacked out and doesn't remember anything else other than waking up while the players were having sex with her.
The players left Sweden's national team after being questioned by police. Huselius and Tallinder were kicked off their Swedish club Linkoping, where they were playing during the NHL lockout. The two have since joined teams in the Swiss league. Lilja was suspended by Swedish club Mora for the rest of the season.
The scandal has created an uproar in the Swedish media and cast a cloud over Sweden's hockey team.
Huselius had the best points-per-game average in the Swedish league with 14 goals and 35 assists in 34 games. He has played 55 games for Sweden, scoring 20 goals. He's a two-time Swedish champion with Farjestad, and won bronze medals for Sweden at the 2001 and 2002 world championships.
Lilja has three goals and eight assists in 44 games for Mora this season. He's played 11 games for Sweden, scoring three goals.
Tallinder has six goals and 10 assists in 44 games. He's played 17 games for Sweden.