Former Robert Morris, Minnesota hockey coach moved from job to job, despite abuse allegations
A revered coach who took teams to championships, Thomas Adrahtas had bounced around several hockey programs in the Chicago area, landing at Robert Morris University in 2008. He left the school in 2018.
MINNEAPOLIS — Tony Kellin remembers an assistant hockey coach at the University of Minnesota approaching him in the locker room during the 1984-85 season and saying he knew a woman who would perform oral sex on Kellin, but only if Kellin would be blindfolded with his hands tied.
A junior defenseman at the time, Kellin said he told coach Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas: “That ain’t gonna happen.” Kellin came to believe Adrahtas was the one who would be performing the proposed sex act — and that some underclassmen were victims of his scheme. He said he reported his suspicions to the athletic director, and Adrahtas was soon gone.
But in 2012, Kellin learned Adrahtas was still coaching. A revered coach who took teams to championships, Adrahtas had bounced around several hockey programs in the Chicago area, landing at Robert Morris University in 2008. Despite a 2010 decision by the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois to suspend Adrahtas from its programs and a 2012 report to police by Kellin, Adrahtas did not leave Robert Morris until November 2018. For Kellin, Adrahtas’ ability to move easily from job to job after the accusations were reported raises questions.
“In my opinion, they dropped the ball,” Kellin told The Associated Press on Tuesday, a day after the University of Minnesota announced that it is investigating the allegations. “I’m disgusted that he was allowed to keep doing it. He’s a predator. He’s a creep.”
The allegations were first reported by The Athletic, which quoted several firsthand accounts by young men who said they were victimized. Adrahtas, 64, did not immediately respond to messages left by the AP at a cellphone number believed to be his. He denied to The Athletic that he had ever sexually abused anyone.
It’s likely too late for Adrahtas to face criminal or civil charges in Minnesota for alleged abuse in the 1980s, due to the statute of limitations. So far, no allegations have emerged publicly from Adrahtas’ time at Robert Morris.
University spokeswoman Nancy Donohoe told the AP that if any complaints had come in, the school would have acted on them. She declined to say whether Robert Morris opened any inquiries into Adrahtas or whether the school would release records related to his tenure, saying she could not speak about personnel issues.
During his 10 years at Robert Morris, Adrahtas gained a reputation as a standout coach and recruiter who raised the level of play despite a modest budget. During the 2013-2014 season, Robert Morris made it to the American Collegiate Hockey Association title game, losing to top-ranked Arizona State.
According to The Athletic, Adrahtas was scheduled to be inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010. When one of his former players, Chris Jensen, heard about that, he reached out to the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois, or AHAI, and told the group that he was one of Adrahtas’ victims.
In a statement to the AP, the amateur hockey organization said it suspended Adrahtas indefinitely on March 1, 2010, pending a hearing that did not happen because Adrahtas resigned from all AHAI affiliate positions. His suspension is still in effect.
It’s unclear whether AHAI and the University of Minnesota reported the allegations to police.
Adrahtas is also suspended from coaching any USA Hockey-sanctioned teams, pending the completion of an investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport involving allegations from multiple former players.
SafeSport investigates reports of sexual misconduct and abuse within organizations that are affiliated with the U.S. Olympic Committee, including USA Hockey. SafeSport says on its website that Adrahtas was temporarily suspended on Sept. 13, 2018, after allegations of misconduct. The website does not provide details. The center said in a statement that it “doesn’t discuss individual matters to protect the integrity of the process and the safety and privacy of the people involved, including those who report abuse.”
The Athletic reported that the SafeSport investigation was launched after one of Adrahtas’ former junior hockey players, Mike Sacks, sent a letter to both the American Collegiate Hockey Association and Robert Morris University describing a 20-month span of sexual abuse and exploitation. Sacks declined to comment Tuesday when reached by the AP.
The University of Minnesota said it has hired the Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie to determine what happened. Athletic Director Mark Coyle also wrote to members of the 1984-85 team, inviting them to come forward with information.
The investigation comes at a time when several men alleging sexual abuse by a deceased University of Michigan doctor have retained law firms that are representing accusers who sued Michigan State University and Ohio State in similar cases.
Kellin said he was approached at least twice by Adrahtas and refused the coach’s offer both times. But he believed that some younger players were being assaulted by Adrahtas without their knowledge. So when one player was presented with the same offer, Kellin and other players organized a “sting operation” of their own and staked out the doors of Adrahtas’ apartment complex to watch for a woman coming or going. No one did.
Kellin then approached Athletic Director Paul Giel. Shortly after that, the coach was gone.
Kellin said he was hunting with friends in 2012 when the topic came up, and one of his buddies suggested that Kellin find out whether Adrahtas was still coaching. Kellin was dismayed to find that he was.
“I kind of figured he was banned from coaching,” Kellin said. “He’s been doing this everywhere he’s been, and he’s probably still doing it.”