PROFESSIONAL hockey player Kyle Beach has come forward as "John Doe", the former Chicago Blackhawks player suing the franchise for failing to act on sexual assault claims he aired against Brad Aldrich, who was the team's video coach.
"I’ve suppressed this memory and buried this memory to chase my dreams and pursue the career that I loved and the game that I love of hockey," said Beach while choking up.
LAW FIRM: 'NOTHING WAS DONE'
The athlete told ESPN he felt both “relief and vindication” following an independent review that slammed the NHL team for turning a blind eye after it was alleged former video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted and harassed a player identified only as “John Doe” during the Blackhawks' victorious Stanley Cup season in 2010.
On Tuesday, a Blackhawks’ commissioned investigation by the law firm Jenner & Block, concluded that "nothing was done" by senior brass in Blackhawks' coaching and management following Beach’s reported abuse at the hands of Brad Aldrich, then the team's video coach, sexually assaulted and harassed him.
"And the healing process is just beginning and yesterday was a huge step in that process.
“But until very recently, I did not talk about it, I did not discuss it, I didn’t think about it.
The 31-year-old player who is playing professionally in Germany reflected how the alleged violations he “buried” this secret and suffered from “impacts on my life” - essentially destroying him from “the inside out.”
“I did stupid things, I acted out, I snapped… I did things that I never could imagine doing,” he said.
“I relied on alcohol, I relied on drugs and … I’m just so relieved with the news that came out yesterday, that I’ve been vindicated, and I can truly begin the healing process."
Beach had become part of the Blackhawks squad during the postseason by earning a rep in the NHL known as a "Black Ace" - a minor-leaguer who is called up to prime the the team during practices, according to ESPN.
After Beach claimed he was inappropriately molested by Aldrich, he said the first person he mentioned the incident to was team’s former skills coach Paul Vincent at a hotel in San Jose, California.
Also, Beach suspects the players in the Blackhawks locker room knew about Aldrich’s alleged actions and that "word spread pretty quick."
"Because the comments were made in the locker room, they were made on the ice, they were made around the arena with all different people of all different backgrounds -- players, staff, media in the presence," Beach said.
‘WAY UP THE CHAIN OF COMMAND’
Coach Vincent reported the incident to some of the Blackhawks front office members.
"I reported this and I was made aware that it made it all the way up the chain of command... and nothing happened," Beach said.
"It was like [Aldrich’s] life was the same as the day before.
“Same every day.
“And then when they won, to see him paraded around lifting the Cup, at the parade, at the team pictures, at celebrations, it made me feel like nothing.”
It appears that the team permitted Aldrich to keep his title and standing during the Stanley Cup run.
They even allegedly granted Aldrich to show off the Stanley Cup before he resigned.
The team’s endorsement of Aldrich allegedly after they were made aware of the sexual abuse allegations hurt Beach.
"The only way I could describe it was that I felt sick, I felt sick to my stomach," he said.
The player started choking up.
"It made me feel like I didn't exist.
“It made me feel like, that I wasn't important and ... it made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong… And the combination of these and him being paraded around, then letting him take the Stanley Cup to a high school with kids after they knew what had happened."
‘COURAGE IN COMING FORWARD’
The Blackhawks issued a statement after Beach’s public interview, commending his "courage" for coming forward.
"First, we would like to acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach's courage in coming forward.
“As an organization, the Chicago Blackhawks reiterate our deepest apologies to him for what he has gone through and for the organization's failure to promptly respond when he bravely brought this matter to light in 2010.”
It also appeared to acknowledge that the old guard of the organization didn’t do enough to help or protect Beach.
“It was inexcusable for the then-executives of the Blackhawks organization to delay taking action regarding the reported sexual misconduct,” the statement reads.
“No playoff game or championship is more important than protecting our players and staff from predatory behavior.”
The team assures it’s committed to remedying past mistakes.
"The Blackhawks have implemented numerous changes and improvements within the organization, including hiring a new leadership team that is committed to winning championships while adhering to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards,” according to the statement.
The Blackhawks are reportedly set to begin settlement talks with Beach’s lawyer, Susan Loggans, next week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Consistent with Danny Wirtz’s public statement, Blackhawks litigation counsel reached out to Ms. Loggans yesterday to begin discussions, [and] a call is scheduled for early next week,” according to the team’s statement to the publication.
The Blackhawks initially attempted to toss two lawsuits on Wednesday, but the team ensured it was simply following legal requirements.
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