Disturbing new details about former Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich’s alleged sexual assault of an anonymous former Hawks player in May 2010 have come to light.
Amended versions of two lawsuits against the Hawks were filed Thursday and obtained by the Sun-Times. The first amended lawsuit claims Aldrich forced the Hawks player, identified as “John Doe 1,” to have nonconsensual sex — a specification that was previously unclear.
The lawsuit alleges Aldrich invited Doe 1 to his apartment “under the premise that Aldrich would go over game clips” with him. Upon Doe 1’s arrival, however, Aldrich allegedly turned on pornography and began to masturbate in front of Doe 1.
When Doe 1 tried to leave the apartment, Aldrich allegedly “blocked the only exit” and “physically threatened” Doe 1 with a souvenir Cubs baseball bat, telling him he would “never play in the NHL . . . if [he] did not engage in nonconsensual sexual activity with Aldrich at that time,” according to the lawsuit.
With Doe 1 left “paralyzed in fear,” Aldrich then allegedly “exposed himself” to him, “forcibly touch[ed]” him, performed other “lewd and lascivious” acts and finally “ejaculated on” him, according to the lawsuit.
Hawks skills coach James Gary later convinced Doe 1 he was responsible for the incident, according to the lawsuit, even as Aldrich allegedly continued to “send harassing texts” to Doe 1 asking him to “come over.”
Another skills coach, Paul Vincent, allegedly told a group of Hawks executives — including then-president John McDonough and current general manager Stan Bowman — about the incident on May 17, 2010, but the executive group allegedly refused to notify police. The Hawks claimed in a motion to dismiss earlier this month that they had no “statutory duty” to report the incident because Doe 1 was not a minor, not disabled and not in a care facility.
Bowman spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since the original lawsuits were filed, but before the amended lawsuits were filed.
Bowman said he does “not condone or tolerate harassment or assault of any type” but won’t talk extensively about the allegations until an investigation currently being conducted by Chicago law firm Jenner & Block into the matter concludes.
“We need to give the experts [investigating this] the necessary time and the latitude to do their job well,” he said. “I am eager to speak about this in more detail in the future, but for now I have to respect the pending litigation and the independent review that’s underway. I’m not going to be able to make any comments about that at this time. We have to let the process play itself out.”
Bowman said he will give the investigation his “full cooperation” but dodged the subject of whether the investigation’s findings will be made public, a clarification the Hawks and NHL have repeatedly avoided providing over the past month.
Other upper-level executives and coaches who were employed by the Hawks in 2010 but now work for other teams — including Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin — have denied knowledge of Aldrich’s alleged assault but said they will participate in the investigation.
Also filed Thursday was a response to the Hawks’ motion to dismiss the Doe 1 lawsuit and an amended version of the second lawsuit filed by “John Doe 2” — the 16-year-old Michigan high school student whom Aldrich confessed to sexually assaulting in 2013.
The Doe 1 motion-to-dismiss response argues that Doe 1’s claims are not preempted by other legal resolution methods, as the Hawks had argued, and that the statute of limitations has not expired because a “question of fact exists as to when [Doe 1] was injured — at the time of the assault or at the time [in July 2019 when] he realized the source of his misery.”
The primary change in the amended Doe 2 lawsuit is a new allegation that the Hawks provided a “positive review and/or employment verification” of Aldrich specifically to Houghton High School, where Doe 2 was a student and Aldrich worked as a volunteer coach. That’s intended to refute the Hawks’ motion to dismiss that case, which called the lack of allegation of a reference specifically to Houghton High a “fatal omission.”
The Hawks did not respond to a request for comment after Thursday’s new filings.
The amended Doe 1 lawsuit provides further context about what happened before and after the alleged May 2010 incident in addition to the new info about the incident itself.
Beforehand, in April and May 2010, Aldrich “repeatedly invited young interns” working for the Hawks “to his private apartment” to “watch various sporting events,” according to the lawsuit. Hawks management and coaches were allegedly “aware of this behavior and believed it to be quite unusual,” but did nothing about it.
Afterward, Aldrich left the Hawks after the 2010 Stanley Cup championship parade, as previously reported. He briefly worked in 2012 as an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) University, and two allegations of Aldrich forcing unwanted sexual contact there have also surfaced this summer; the university is conducting an investigation into his tenure there.
Meanwhile, Doe 1 was allegedly subject to homophobic and “humiliating trash talking” relating to the incident for years at hockey practices and scrimmages at which Hawks-employed coaches were present, according to the lawsuit.
The team “permitted its players to repeatedly harass [Doe 1]” by calling him slur words and asking if he wanted to engage in oral sex, according to the lawsuit.