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Chicago Blackhawks apologize to Kyle Beach for dismissing sexual assault allegations

Hockey player speaks out about alleged abuse
Former player with Chicago Blackhawks breaks silence about alleged abuse by coach 02:58

The Chicago Blackhawks apologized to former minor league affiliate player Kyle Beach this week for speaking dismissively about his allegation that he was sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich, a former video coach for the team. The apology comes after an independent investigation found that team officials mishandled Beach's allegations, leading to a $2 million fine from the National Hockey League. 

Beach, who was known as "John Doe" in the report, alleges that Aldrich sexually assaulted him in May 2010, after he was selected as a backup player for the team's run in the NHL playoffs. Aldrich told the law firm investigating the allegation that the interaction was consensual, and denied assaulting Beach. 

Though the report criticizes the team's handling of the allegation, concluding that officials waited until the Blackhawks had won the Stanley Cup to refer the matter to human resources and allowed Aldrich to resign without investigating, it said there was no evidence that team owners knew of the allegation. The report notes that it is not clear how much team officials knew about the nature of Beach's claims. 

The Tuesday statement said the matter was brought to the attention of CEO Danny Wirtz and his father, team owner Rocky Wirtz, in 2020, when Beach's lawyer contacted the team about a potential civil lawsuit. 

At that time, "The Wirtz family relied on information provided by then-counsel and then-human resources that this matter was appropriately looked into and resolved in 2010 based on their review," the statement said. "When the lawsuit was filed and additional allegations and information were made public through media reports, ownership commissioned the independent investigation." 

"We apologize to Kyle Beach for previously stating his allegations 'lacked merit,'" the team added, apparently referencing a statement given to Chicago radio station WBEZ after Beach filed his civil lawsuit in May 2021. "It is clear now that our organization did not do the right thing." 

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Four
The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks in Game Four of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final.  Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks went on to win the finals that year, taking home the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961. During that time, "Aldrich continued to work with and travel with the team," and celebrated the Stanley Cup win in the presence of Beach, the report said. 

"It is clear that in 2010 the executives of this organization put team performance above all else," Danny Wirtz said on the day the investigation was made public. "John Doe deserved better from the Blackhawks."

Beach, who publicly identified himself soon after the investigation was made public, told "CBS Mornings" last week that "it's important to come forward to share my story because this is so much bigger than Kyle Beach."

"Yes, I'm a survivor, but there's millions of people in this world that have been affected by sexual abuse or sexual assault, and I'm speaking out now to hopefully give them a voice, to give them the power to come forward so that we can make a change in this world and hopefully make this a safer place in sports but also in work and life and every day," he said. 

Following the report's release, the National Hockey League fined the Blackhawks $2 million for "inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response." General manager and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman resigned, as did multiple other officials named in the report. 

On Monday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman apologized to Beach for his experience and commended him for his bravery. "I admire Kyle Beach for his courage in coming forward, am appalled that he was so poorly supported upon making his initial claim and in the 11 years since, and am sorry for all he has endured," Bettman said

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