Blackhawks hire law firm to conduct independent review of sexual assault allegations

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Blackhawks hire firm to investigate sexual assault allegations originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Blackhawks have launched an investigation into sexual assault allegations against former video coach Brad Alrich, team CEO Danny Wirtz told staffers in an internal memo on Monday.

The law firm Jenner & Block LLP, led by former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, will conduct an "independent review" of the allegations.

Chicago radio station WBEZ first reported in May on the lawsuit, where an unidentified former player from the 2010 team alleged Aldrich sexually assaulted him and another player during their Stanley Cup run. Former skills coach Paul Vincent told TSN last week that he called a meeting before the 2010 Western Conference Final to inform the management group of the allegations and to advise the executives to report the incident to police, but they never did.

"Much has recently been said and written regarding the two lawsuits filed against the organization stemming from alleged events that occurred in 2010," Wirtz wrote in the memo, which was first reported by The Athletic. "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."

Wirtz also wrote in Monday's memo that the Blackhawks will not comment further on the situation "out of the respect of the legal proceedings and independent review" until each process has "reached its respective conclusion."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the allegations on Monday evening during his Stanley Cup Final media availability.

"We learned relatively recently considering that the allegations, I think, at least from what we know publicly are 10 years old or thereabouts," Bettman said. "And we believed that it was appropriate in the first instance for there to be an independent investigation, which has been commissioned previously by the Blackhawks and is underway.

"This is obviously a matter of litigation. We'll await the findings from the independent investigation, which is being conducted by Jenner & Block, which has no connection to the Blackhawks or the league, and it's being spearheaded by a former federal prosecutor. So we'll await the results of the investigation and then decide what, if anything, needs to be done from our standpoint."

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