The Blackhawks filed amended motions to dismiss Friday in both negligence lawsuits related to Bradley Aldrich, the former video coach who allegedly sexually assaulted a Hawks player in 2010.
The amended motion in the second lawsuit, filed by a student (identified anonymously as ”John Doe 2”) whom Aldrich assaulted at Houghton (Michigan) High School in 2013, focuses on the lack of evidence to support a claim that the Hawks sent a recommendation letter to Houghton on Aldrich’s behalf.
Aldrich left the Hawks in summer 2010, worked at Miami (Ohio) University in 2012 before resigning because of another alleged sexual assault, then became a volunteer assistant for the Houghton boys’ hockey team.
An original version of the second lawsuit, filed May 24 in Cook County Circuit Court, claimed the Hawks ”provided positive references to future employers for Bradley Aldrich . . . despite having knowledge of his sexual assaults.”
An amended version of the lawsuit, filed July 21, was less specific in that realm, claiming only the Hawks provided a ”positive review and/or employment verification of Aldrich to Houghton.”
The Hawks said they made a request Friday — outside of the court motion — to Susan Loggans, the lawyer representing both the former Hawks player and the Michigan student, that she withdraw the claim.
”Plaintiff effectively admits he has no facts to actually establish that [the Hawks] did either of these things,” the lawsuit states. ”Indeed, [the Hawks] made a request . . . that [Loggans] withdraw these allegations because they are demonstrably false.”
Because of the pending motions to dismiss, neither lawsuit has progressed to the discovery stage, when such a letter might surface.
But The Athletic reported in June that Houghton High didn’t perform a background check on Aldrich at the time. And a Sun-Times public-records request to Miami University returned 50 pages of documents, including a resume from Aldrich that mentioned the Hawks, but no correspondences with the team.
Loggans hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment in recent weeks.
The Hawks’ amended motion in the Doe 2 lawsuit also claims they didn’t but also had ”no duty to inform subsequent prospective employers” of Aldrich’s alleged assault, citing a 2012 court ruling.
Meanwhile, the Hawks’ amended motion to dismiss the first lawsuit, filed by the former Hawks player (identified anonymously as ”John Doe 1”), re-emphasizes their claim that the statute of limitations had expired before the lawsuit was filed in May.
Doe 1 claimed he repressed his memory of being assaulted by Aldrich until 2019, thus only starting the two-year statute of limitations at that time.
But the Hawks claimed Friday the statute of limitations should have expired in 2012 because Doe 1 was an adult fully aware of the incident. They cited Doe 1’s claim that Hawks teammates bullied him about the incident in practice during ensuing years as evidence his memory couldn’t have been repressed.
Doe 1 also has said former Hawks skills coach James Gary, who left the team just this summer, allegedly convinced him the assault — in which Aldrich allegedly threatened him with a baseball bat before touching and ejaculating on him — was his own fault.
”Courts have declined to hold that a plaintiff’s interest in pursuing civil claims premised on alleged adult sexual abuse that happened many years ago outweighs a party’s interest in not having to defend against ‘stale claims,’ ” the Hawks’ motion said.
The Hawks’ new motions make stronger efforts than their previous motions did, however, to distinguish between the courts of law and public opinion.
The Doe 1 motion states that ”while the complaint’s allegations fail as a matter of law, the complaint alleges issues that are at the core of workplace culture today,” adding that the Hawks are ”committed to being a safe, dignified and respectful workplace.” The Doe 2 motion acknowledges Aldrich’s 2013 sexual assault was ”tragic and reprehensible.”
Chicago law firm Jenner & Block’s ongoing independent investigation into the allegations is expected to conclude this fall.