CHICAGO (CBS) — Explosive allegations have surfaced of decades of abuse inflicted upon teenage boys by a prominent local hockey coach.
The CBS 2 Investigators were the first to expose the claims. Now, they are etched into an 88-page federal lawsuit. At their center is cover-ups.READ MORE: Police, FBI Ask For Help From The Public After They Say Girl Was Kidnapped In Peru, Illinois
Earlier this week, the survivors spoke exclusively to CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini. The men said they suffered in silence for the last 30 to 40 years.
But they are not silent anymore.
“I’ve alienated everybody that’s has ever loved me,” said Kelly Gee.
After the abuse, Gee and Mike sacks both struggled to live.
“The silence almost killed me, Dave,” Sacks told Savini. “I tried to, I mean, the suicide thoughts – it’s real. It’s real.”
The once young, promising hockey players are now living with trauma they say they endured at the hands of their hockey coach, Tom “Chico” Adrahtas.
“For the last 40 years, Chico Adrahtas was the bogeyman of Illinois hockey,” said plaintiff attorney Lee Jacobson.
The former coach is accused of using blindfolds and restraints to trick teenage players into compromising positions to sexually abuse them.
Chris Jensen was 16.
“And then he takes me up and he blindfolds me,” Jensen said of what he claims Adrahtas did to him at that age.
Sacks was also 16, and described a pillowcase being used as a blindfold.READ MORE: Rev. Daniel McCarthy Reinstated As Pastor Emeritus Of Northwest Side Parish; Evidence Deemed Insufficient For Decades-Old Sexual Abuse Claim
A federal lawsuit filed on their behalf against the University of Minnesota, USA Hockey, and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) alleges cover-ups that enabled Adrahtas to coach hockey for decades.
He resigned from his last job at Robert Morris University in 2018.
“There’s reform that’s required in this culture,” Gee said at a news conference Thursday. “When I said it’s toxic, that’s being almost too nice.”
The suit alleges it all started in Minnesota in 1984, when the coach was caught abusing players. But instead of reporting him, Adrahtas simply abruptly left and went to work for elite youth hockey teams in Illinois.
Savini: “Did the university of Minnesota bury this?”
Sacks: “Absolutely, they buried it. They buried it.
“He came back to Illinois to coach, with all the credibility in the world with having coached for the Golden Gophers,” Jacobson said. “Parents did everything they could to get their sons on his team. Youth hockey organizations lined up for his services.”
Jensen was the first player to break his silence. He sent a letter to AHAI in 2010 about the sex abuse.
A source with access to AHAI’s investigation tells the CBS 2 Investigators the organization’s lawyer warned what would happen if Jensen’s allegations ever got out – claiming there would be a feeding frenzy if the claims made it to the news media.
“I was not aware of that,” Jensen said.
“And it stops with this level of accountability and understanding and transparency,” added Gee at the Thursday news conference on the lawsuit.
USA Hockey and AHAI said they reported the coach to the proper authorities. The University of Minnesota said it has not seen the lawsuit yet, but admits it failed to investigate the sexual abuse claims.MORE NEWS: Massive Chemical Plant Fire In Rockton, Illinois, Could Burn For Days
Meanwhile, the U.S. Center for Safe Sport issued a lifetime ban against Adrahtas last June. Safe Sport said it will continue to investigate, and also encouraged people with information about anyone who knew, but failed to report the coach to come forward.