The Blackhawks have initiated an investigation of the sexual assault allegations against former video coach Bradley Aldrich and into the internal handling of those allegations.
After weeks of silence, the team — via an internal memo from CEO Danny Wirtz, obtained by the Sun-Times — announced Monday they hired the law firm Jenner & Block LLP to lead an “independent review” of the allegations. Reid Schar, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and now the law firm’s Litigation Department Co-Chair, will lead the investigation.
“Much has recently been said and written regarding the two lawsuits filed against the organization stemming from alleged events that occurred in 2010,” Wirtz said in the memo. “We want to reiterate to you that we take the allegations described in these lawsuits very seriously. They in no way reflect this organization’s culture or values.
“Mr. Schar and his firm have significant experience conducting independent investigative reviews, have no previous ties to the Blackhawks organization, and have been directed to follow the facts wherever they lead.”
The Blackhawks are currently facing a lawsuit from a former player — identified under the pseudonym “John Doe” in the lawsuit — who claims he and another player were sexually assaulted by Aldrich in May 2010, one month before the team won the Stanley Cup.
Aldrich ”sent . . . inappropriate text messages,” ”turned on porn and began to masturbate in front of [Doe] . . . without his consent” and ”threatened to injure [Doe] . . . physically, financially and emotionally if [Doe] . . . did not engage in sexual activity,” according to the lawsuit filed May 7.
Three players from the 2010 team — including defensemen Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton — came forth last week, saying Aldrich’s assaults were widely known among the team.
Former video coach Paul Vincent told TSN that he informed then-president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, executive Al MacIsaac and skills coach James Gary about Aldrich’s alleged assault at a meeting in 2010, but that the group of Hawks executives rejected his request to report the incident to the police. Former assistant coach John Torchetti recently confirmed Vincent’s account to TSN.
Aldrich sexually assaulted a 16-year-old Michigan boy while volunteering for a high school team in 2013 after his Hawks tenure, and that victim is now also suing the Hawks for allegedly providing “positive references to future employers for Bradley Aldrich despite having knowledge of his sexual assaults.”
In Monday’s internal memo, Wirtz said the Hawks will not comment further on the allegations — “out of respect for the ongoing legal proceedings and the independent review” — until both processes have ended. The Hawks had denied wrongdoing in a statement last month, shortly after the lawsuit was filed.
The Hawks have motioned to dismiss the ex-player’s lawsuit, arguing in court documents that the statute of limitations expired and the player did not exhaust all other remedy methods for workplace sexual assault before suing.