Blackhawks ask court to dismiss lawsuit filed by latest ‘John Doe’
Content Warning: The following article contains references to sexual assault.
The Chicago Blackhawks have asked a court to dismiss a negligence lawsuit filed by a former player who alleges he was sexually assaulted during the 2009-10 Stanley Cup season and playoffs by former team video coach Brad Aldrich, saying the player took too long to make his claim.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 2 in Cook County Court in Chicago, nearly two years after Kyle Beach settled his own litigation with the franchise.
The former player, who is referred to in court documents as “John Doe,” was called up to Chicago during the 2009-2010 season and playoffs to serve as a “Black Ace,” a prospect player who could be available to play for the team if needed.
The Blackhawks wrote in their filing that the player filed his lawsuit 13 years after he was allegedly assaulted by Aldrich. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, the team wrote.
“Plaintiff knew that he was injured by Aldrich… by no later than June 2010,” the Blackhawks wrote. “Although plaintiff may not have understood the ‘full extent’ of the negligence he now alleges, his knowledge was plainly sufficient to start the clock on the statute of limitations.”
The player alleged in his claim that Aldrich sent him harassing text messages, attempted to make him watch pornography with him, offered to pay for plaintiff to receive sexual favours from a masseuse if Aldrich could watch, physically assaulted him by grabbing him and “grinding” his genitals against him, and attempted to join him and a woman in a sexual encounter.
The filing says that the player allegedly told then-team mental skills coach Jim Gary about his interactions with Aldrich and that Gary told him he “should move on with his life.”
The team wrote in its motion to dismiss that even if Gary did tell the player to move on with his life, “these facts do not constitute extreme and outrageous conduct. Gary’s alleged comments were no doubt insensitive and inappropriate, but they were not so severe that no reasonable man could be expected to endure them…”
Aldrich quietly resigned from the team on June 16, 2010.
“A one-month delay in investigating and removing an adult accused of misconduct is neither extreme nor outrageous,” the Blackhawks wrote in their filing.The Blackhawks, who were fined $2 million by the NHL for mismanaging the sexual assault allegations against Aldrich, have overhauled their leadership team and say they have introduced new reporting mechanisms for misconduct and training for employees.
Beach’s lawsuit, first filed in May 2021, shook the hockey world and led to the team commissioning Chicago law firm Jenner & Block to investigate the allegations.
On Oct. 27, 2021, the firm released a report outlining how Blackhawks management and coaching staff declined to report to police sexual assault allegations against Aldrich in May 2010.
After Aldrich left the NHL team, he was given a day with the Stanley Cup, moved between hockey jobs, and in 2013 worked as a volunteer coach in Houghton, Mich., where he sexually assaulted a then-16-year-old player. He was sentenced to nine months in jail.