Hearing the Blackhawks executives who covered up the alleged sexual assault for 11 years finally censured Tuesday, Kyle Beach felt overwhelmed by emotions.
“I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more,” Beach said. “Following it, [I had] just a great feeling of relief, vindication, and it was no longer my word against everybody else’s.”
Beach revealed himself as the previously anonymous ex-Hawk whom former video coach Brad Aldrich allegedly sexually assaulted during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup run on a Canadian TV interview Wednesday with TSN’s Rick Westhead.
Beach, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, was considered one of the larger draft busts in Hawks history. It has become clear that irresponsible team executives at the time ruined Beach’s career through their inaction.
“When they won [the Cup], to see [Aldrich] paraded around, lifting a Cup at the parade, at the team pictures, at the celebrations, it made me feel like nothing,” Beach said. “It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel like I wasn’t important. It made me feel like he was in the right, and I was wrong.”
For the 2010 playoffs, Beach was a Black Ace — a prospect called up to accompany the NHL team and gain experience. He’d never been in the NHL before and had only played 10 AHL games by that point, leaving him eager to prove himself.
Aldrich exploited that vulnerability, the Jenner & Block investigation into the Hawks’ cover-up revealed, by giving Beach and other Black Aces inside information about lineups yet telling them he could “bury” their careers if they wronged him.
After the alleged sexual assault — which took place on a night when Aldrich invited Beach over to supposedly watch hockey videos, then forcibly performed oral sex on him, according to the investigation — Aldrich’s previous threats kept Beach quiet.
“I felt like I was alone and there was nothing I could do and nobody I could turn to for help, and I didn’t know what to do,” Beach said on TSN. “As a 20-year-old [at the time], you could never imagine being put in this situation by somebody that’s supposed to be there to help you and make you a better hockey player and continue to build your career.”
Beach told his family only once, he said, then tried to never think about the assault again, using alcohol and drugs in the process. He played 173 games for the Rockford IceHogs through 2013-14, then moved overseas. Now 31, he plays for a third-division German club.
Recently googling Aldrich’s name and learning of Aldrich’s sexual assault of a still-anonymous Michigan high schooler in 2013 shocked him into action.
“Because of what happened to him, it gave me the power and the sense of urgency to take action — to make sure it wouldn’t happen to anybody else,” Beach said, breaking down in tears on TSN. “I hope at some point, down the road, if he’s open to it, I would love to meet [the other victim].”
Beach said he witnessed meetings discussing Aldrich’s assault in coach Joel Quenneville’s office — “There’s absolutely no way he can deny knowing it,” he added. He also said he fully believes the Hawks’ NHL roster knew about the assault because “word spread pretty quick” — he was bullied with comments about it in the locker room and on the ice.
But he’s now ready to try to recover his life after telling his story publicly.
“The healing process is just beginning,” he said. “But the one thing that I want to make sure comes from this is change. . . . I would love to be a part of a group that comes up [with] and designs a system to make sure that there is a safe place in the sports world [for all abuse victims].”