(TW: sexual assault, sexual harassment)
I’ll be honest, I really thought the Kyle Beach lawsuit against the Blackhawks back in 2021 — and all the ensuing reports revealed about the rot that festered beneath the Hawks’ legendary Stanley Cup runs from 2010-2015 — would see fans saying, “enough.” Maybe I shouldn’t have. It hadn’t happened with the bad behavior by some of the star players during that time, which everyone in Chicago seemed to have a story about. It didn’t happen when fans harassed journalists and forced a woman accusing a player of sexual assault to flee her hometown. But surely, surely, an independent report detailing how the Hawks covered up the alleged sexual assault of one of their AHL players by an assistant coach — that had to be the final straw for Blackhawks fans. Right?
If the number of fans flocking to the United Center to watch top draft pick Connor Bedard and happily posting pics of their kids in Hawks jerseys on social media is any indication, it was not the final straw. But now, just two years after the daming “Kyle Beach Report” was released — and the Hawks and Beach reached a confidential settlement — the Hawks find themselves on the receiving end of another lawsuit from a player, also claiming that he was sexually assaulted by former Hawks assistant coach Brad Aldrich.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “A former member of the Chicago Blackhawks’ “Black Aces” squad and teammate of Kyle Beach has alleged in a lawsuit that former video coach Brad Aldrich ‘groomed, harassed, threatened and assaulted’ him during the 2009-10 season and that the Hawks suppressed his complaint to protect their Stanley Cup championship run.”
The complaint, filed under the name John Doe in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday, contained some truly horrific allegations, including that, “Aldrich sneaked into the bedroom while John Doe and (a) woman were having sex and tried to insert himself into the encounter, making his presence first known by playing with John Doe’s feet in the dark,” that Aldrich sent Doe “a text message with a picture of Coach Aldrich’s penis (which Doe allegedly showed to then-team President John McDonough’s secretary, and that, “On multiple occasions … Aldrich approached John Doe from behind, grabbed him in a hugging gesture, and ground his penis against John Doe’s back and buttocks through his clothes.”
The lawsuit further alleges that the Blackhawks organization showed “utter indifference and/or conscious disregard for the safety of its employees.”
The unknown player’s attorneys have confirmed to the Tribune that their client was previously referred to as “Black Ace 1” in an independent report (the report), commissioned by the Blackhawks and undertaken by the law firm Jenner & Block.
The allegations in Doe’s lawsuit echo Beach’s claims. The report found that “president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman and senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac met with John McDonough, Jay Blunk, Kevin Cheveldayoff, Joel Quenneville and James Gary in May 2010 to discuss the allegations. No action was taken for three weeks, after the Blackhawks won and celebrated the 2010 Stanley Cup.” Beach also claimed that his teammates began using homophobic slurs against him after his report of Aldrich’s assault spread.
Aldrich resigned from the team in 2010, but still received a severance and playoff bonus, according to the Beach report, and his name was inscribed on the Stanley Cup along with the rest of the coaches. It wasn’t until 2021 that the Blackhawks requested it be removed. There are plenty of pics circulating on the internet of Aldrich hoisting the 2010 Stanley Cup, well after the organization was aware of Beach’s allegations. And then there’s the fact that Aldrich’s departure was handled so quietly, that he went on to coach at a Michigan high school, where Aldrich was promptly accused of assaulting a high school player in 2013. He spent nine months in prison and remains on the state’s sex offender registry. Perhaps, had the Hawks taken Beach’s claims more seriously, they could have prevented Aldrich assaulting anyone else.
After the Beach report, the Hawks did and said all the right things, including penning a letter to fans in October of 2021 about all the ways the team would strive to be better. “What we do off the ice is equally as important as anything we do on it,” the letter said. “Our ownership and leadership teams are committed to ensuring that the Blackhawks adhere to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards.” That letter, and the sentiments within it, were almost completely obliterated by Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz just four months later, when he scolded a reporter at a town-hall meeting for asking about Beach. “We’re not going to talk about Kyle Beach,” Wirtz angrily said. “We’re not going to talk about anything that happened. Now we’re moving on. What more do I have to say?”
Wirtz passed away in July 0f 2023, and his son, Danny, is now the chairman and CEO of the organization. But the question lingers, in light of the new lawsuit, of whether things actually have changed in the Blackhawks’ locker room, or whether the team is simply waiting for the fans to forgive them, again, so they can put it all in the rearview mirror. The team’s response this time around will be telling. And so will that of its fans.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 Free. Confidential. 24/7.
Original source here
#player #Chicago #Blackhawks