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Warning: This article contains descriptions of alleged sexual abuse
A former Chicago Blackhawks player was allegedly sexually assaulted by ex-video coach Bradley Aldrich in 2010 and is still dealing with the long-term effects of the abuse.
“Every day is a work in progress,” the player told TSN. “It comes when I wake up and much worse when trying to fall asleep, especially in light of all the activity now. I have not come to terms with it. It is ongoing. I don’t think I will ever fully come to terms with it.”
When asked about others who have been potentially assaulted by Aldrich, the former Blackhawks player had one simple message.
“I would tell them that it’s very hard to deal with the pain of coming out with what happened,” the player wrote to TSN. “But the minute you come out, the healing begins. It’s very uplifting to know how much support I’m getting from the public and other players.”
The player said he wasn’t sure what would happen if he was in the same room as Aldrich now.
“That question is too hard to answer...Obviously, it is an illness and I hope he heals for his sake and everyone else.”
First reported on May 13 by TSN’s Rick Westhead, a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup champions filed a lawsuit on May 7 accusing the Blackhawks of ignoring the allegations against Aldrich.
Included in the lawsuit was a detailed meeting in which former Blackhawks mental skills coach James F. Gary allegedly convinced the player “that the sexual assault was his fault, that he was culpable for what had happened, [and had] made mistakes during his encounter with the perpetrator and permitted the sexual assault to occur.”
In addition to his alleged abuse in the NHL, Aldrich quickly disappeared after the Stanley Cup was awarded in 2010 and went to coach high school hockey voluntarily, which the Blackhawks gave him a positive reference letter for while purportedly knowing he was a sexual predator.
A second lawsuit was filed on May 26 by a former player of that high school team, which alleges that in 2013, Aldrich sexually assaulted him when he was just 16 years old. “At an end of season gathering for the players, Aldrich provided alcohol to the then-minor plaintiff and performed oral sex on the plaintiff without his consent,” the six-page lawsuit says.
Since the initial report, other sources such as former Chicago coach John Torchetti confirmed that the team’s management group met to discuss the alleged abuse. Former players have also come forward to allege that everybody on the team knew of the abuse in 2010.
In the weeks since the initial report, the Blackhawks have hired former federal prosecutor Reid Schar to conduct an independent review of the allegations.
Before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly were called upon to give some answers regarding the allegations.
‘‘We’ll await the results of the investigation and then decide what, if anything, needs to be done from our standpoint,’’ Bettman said. ‘‘All options are available if there’s something that warrants punishment. . . . What we know is based on what’s public. That’s why we’re going to be interested to see what the investigation reveals and doesn’t reveal.’’
Bettman said he found the allegations ‘‘concerning’’ but repeatedly emphasized a patient approach, saying it might take ‘‘a little bit of time to piece things together.’’
‘‘Everybody is jumping too far, too fast,’’ he said. ‘‘This is going to be handled appropriately and professionally and done right.’’
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