D.C. police are investigating an allegation by a 17-year-old girl that four members of the Washington Capitals hockey team participated in raping and sodomizing her in a limousine in Georgetown early Saturday, according to police sources.
The four Capitals players being investigated are right wing Dino Ciccarelli, 30; left wing Geoff Courtnall, 27; and defensemen Neil Sheehy, 30, and Scott Stevens, 26, the police sources said. No charges have been filed against the players.
The police department has sent a preliminary police report on the incident to the U.S. Attorney's Office to be presented to the grand jury, which decides whether to bring indictments.
Police Lt. Reginald L. Smith said that "there is some medical evidence of sexual activity" and that police investigators "have sufficient grounds to believe that a criminal offense did occur."
Ciccarelli, Stevens and Courtnall are at the heart of the Capitals, and were part of the driving force that propelled the team to the Prince of Wales Conference finals in the National Hockey League playoffs. The team lost to the Boston Bruins, four games to none, in the finals last week. The Capitals had never before advanced beyond the Patrick Division in the playoffs.
Ciccarelli, reached yesterday by telephone, said, "We've got an attorney and they don't want us to talk. I can't say anything."
Courtnall said, "My lawyer said to say 'no comment.' " Sheehy would not comment, and Stevens could not be reached.
Courtnall's attorney, Donald T. Bucklin, would not comment on the allegations. Carl S. Rauh, Ciccarelli's attorney, and Earl Silbert, the attorney for Stevens, also would not comment.
Law enforcement sources said that the girl who made the complaint was known to several of the players, and that she may have dated another player on the team. She told police that the incident occurred after a party Friday night at Champions, a sports bar at 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Brad Nierenberg, the restaurant's promotion manager, said that the bar was holding a party for the Caps to celebrate the team's season, which ended with 36 victories, 38 losses and six ties. On Wednesday, the Boston Bruins completed a playoff sweep of the Caps with a 3-2 victory.
Ciccarelli was the Capitals' leading scorer this season, with 41 goals, and was the team's points leader, with 79. He came to the team in 1989 from the Minnesota North Stars. While in Minnesota, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure.
Stevens, a Capital for eight seasons, has become one of the league's best defensemen and one of the team's senior members. Courtnall joined the team in the summer of 1988 and scored at least 35 goals each of the past two seasons.
The girl told police that Sheehy called her at home Friday night and invited her to the Champions party. She arrived about 10 p.m. with a friend, the girl told police. At one point during the evening, the girl called another Caps player from the bar and told him that she was there and had parked her car on Prospect Street NW near the bar.
The incident began about 1 a.m., the girl said, when she was talking to a few players and Ciccarelli grabbed her by the arm and pulled her outside into an alley near the 3200 block of Prospect Street NW. Ciccarelli then forced the girl inside a limousine that was parked in the alley, she said.
One Caps player was in the limousine and the other two soon got in, the girl said. The four then participated in raping and sodomizing her, she told police.
They let her out of the limousine sometime after 2 a.m. She notified police about 5 a.m. and went to an area hospital, police sources said.
Nierenberg, of Champions, does not remember seeing the girl, and said that it was highly unlikely that a 17-year-old would satisfy the club's stringent identification requirements.
Nierenberg said that the party started about 8:30 or 8:45 p.m. Friday when about 24 players showed up and were sent to a reserved area on the second floor for food and drinks. The players spent the time "bonding" and reviewing newspaper rankings that had been released that day, Nierenberg said.
About two hours later, an announcement was made that the Caps were upstairs, and patrons who wanted to join them were invited to go upstairs. Nierenberg said several of the customers, including women, went upstairs.
Several players left throughout the evening, and about 1:30 a.m., Nierenberg said, he ordered three limousines for the remaining 18 or 19 players. Two limos were parked on Wisconsin Avenue, and one was parked outside the club's rear entrance, Nierenberg said.
Ciccarelli, Courtnall, Sheehy and Stevens were all supposed to go in the limo parked outside the rear entrance, Nierenberg said. He said he does not remember a seeing a girl in the car. Nierenberg said that once the players were in the limo, he went back inside the club and left about 3 a.m.
Last night, team officials -- including owner Abe Pollin, many players and their wives -- attended a previously planned team dinner at the downtown Westin Hotel. It was what general manager David Poile described as a "private team function," and reporters were not allowed to attend.
As Pollin entered the hotel, he said, "I don't know anything about" an investigation.
Many of the players on hand seemed to be learning the news for the first time. Forward Dale Hunter drew back in surprise when told of the allegations.
Goaltender Mike Liut, when asked about the complaint at his home in Connecticut, said, "Are you serious? Holy -- That's the first I've heard of it. Usually a comment is made on trades. But I don't have anything to say about this."
Ciccarelli joined the Capitals on March 7, 1989, when he was traded to Washington in exchange for right wing Mike Gartner and defenseman Larry Murphy.
This year was his sixth 40-goal season as an NHL player. Ciccarelli was a big reason for the Capitals' success in the playoffs. He scored eight goals in the first round of the Patrick Division playoff series against the New Jersey Devils.
But Ciccarelli sprained his knee in the second game of the Capitals' second-round playoff series against the New York Rangers and was unable to play again in the playoffs.
Ciccarelli, who is married and has three children, was involved in legal trouble during his time in Minnesota. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure on Jan. 20, 1988, and was ordered to undergo counseling. His probation ended in January 1989.
Police in Eden Prairie, Minn., a Minneapolis suburb, said that Ciccarelli had been arrested outside his home wearing only his sweat shirt.
In January 1988, Ciccarelli was suspended by the NHL for 10 games, and spent a day in jail, for striking a player in the head with his hockey stick.
Courtnall came to the Capitals in 1988 in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers for Greg Adams. Courtnall was one of the Capitals' top scorers last season, and was again this year. A native of Victoria, B.C., Courtnall scored 35 goals and added 39 assists for 74 points. Courtnall had three goals in the. Courtnall is married and has two sons.
Stevens has been a member of the Capitals for eight seasons. A high draft choice, he has become one of the league's top defensemen. This season, he missed 23 games because of injuries. Still he finished with 11 goals and 29 assists. Stevens is married and has an infant daughter.
Sheehy joined the Capitals in July 1988 in a trade with the Hartford Whalers. Sheehy played in 59 games this season. He had one goal and five assists. He is single.
Staff writers Mark Asher, Steve Berkowitz, Gabriel Escobar and Tracy Thompson contributed to this report.