CHICAGO (CBS) — The “John Doe” who accused former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich of sexual abuse back in 2010 identified himself Wednesday as former Blackhawks minor league player Kyle Beach.
Beach spoke with Rick Westhead on Canada’s TSN SportsCentre.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Monday Brings Wind, Blast Of Cold Air
Beach said he had “a great feeling of relief vindication and it was no longer my word against everyone else’s.”
CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported as fans entered the United Center Wednesday night to watch the Blackhawks take on the Toronto Maple Leafs, many could not help but think of the cloud of shame that now hangs over the team – and how Beach said the organization turned its back on him.
On Tuesday, Blackhawks president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman announced he had “stepped aside,” after an independent investigation determined he and other team executives failed to promptly investigate the former player’s claims he was sexually assaulted by former video coach in 2010.
“We and he ultimately accept that, in his first year as general manager, he made a mistake, alongside our other senior executives at the time, and did not take adequate action in 2010,” team CEO Danny Wirtz announced Tuesday afternoon.
Bowman on Tuesday also resigned as the general manager of the 2022 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Also out over the Blackhawks’ handling of the scandal is senior vice president Al MacIsaac.
Beach is now playing in Erfurt, Germany for a team called the Black Dragons. He was a first-round draft pick for the Blackhawks in 2008.
He told TSN that in 2010, he had just finished his junior season with the Spokane Chiefs and had been called up by the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs. That team in turn lost the first round of the playoffs, and Beach said he and several others were called up to the Blackhawks as Black Aces practice players.
“I think anytime you get that phone call, you’re going up – whether it’s to play or to be a practice player. But to be a part of that for the first time besides a training camp, it was an extremely special moment for me and for my family and the next step for me pursuing my NHL dream that I dreamed about and worked for my entire life,” Beach told TSN. “So unfortunately, a couple weeks after, those memories were tainted, and my life was changed forever.”
Beach was 20 at the time, and said he was “scared” and “fearful” following the alleged abuse.
“I would never dream, or you could never imagine being put in this situation by somebody who’s supposed to be there to help you and to make you a better hockey player and a better person and continue to build your career,” he told TSN. “Just scared and alone with no idea what to do.”
Beach told TSN the first person he told was then-Blackhawks skills coach Paul Vincent while traveling with the team. Beach credited Vincent with trying to do everything he could when the allegations of abuse first surfaced.
Beach also told his family a short time afterward, he told TSN.
“My mom cried for days,” he said. “She felt responsible, like she should have protected me and there was nothing could do.”
Meanwhile, Aldrich got a front row seat to the party when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. He got to bring the cup to his hometown, was paid a playoff bonus, and attended the banner-raising ceremony at the United Center.
But according to a comprehensive four-month investigation by an independent law firm, Blackhawks management by then was already well aware of the sexual assault allegations made by the man now identified as Beach.
“It is clear that in 2010, the executives of this organization put team performance above all else,” said Blackhawks chief executive officer Dany Wirtz. “John Doe deserves better from the Blackhawks.”
Former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, who conducted the independent investigation of the team’s handling of that former player’s claims after he sued the Blackhawks in May, said their probe determined that both the former player and Aldrich agreed they had a sexual encounter in May of 2010, but while Beach insisted it was entirely non-consensual, Aldrich maintains it was entirely consensual.
Schar said Bowman and other senior executives failed to promptly conduct a thorough investigation after the player told the team’s skating coach of the alleged assault.
According to Schar, his team interviewed 139 people during their four-month probe; including 21 current Blackhawks players, and 14 members of the 2009-2010 team. Investigators also interviewed both Doe and Aldrich, who “have widely divergent recollections” of what happened, but agree they had a sexual encounter in May 2010.
Schar said the man now identified as Beach told a team skating coach about the encounter about a week after it happened, and on May 23, 2010, a team employee told MacIsaac that there might have been a sexual encounter between the player and Aldrich, and also that Aldrich had sent a sexually explicit message to another player.READ MORE: Multiple Juveniles Arrested During Large Gathering, Fights Near Millennium Park
MacIsaac directed mental skills coach Jim Gary to speak to the man now identified as Beach to find out details of the sexual encounter, according to Schar. Beach told Schar’s team he provided the full details of the alleged assault to Gary on May 23; and while Gary recalled getting only “much more limited” information from the player, he told investigators he believed the player’s claims, and that Aldrich was pressuring the player into having sex.
Schar said that several Blackhawks executives and coaches held a meeting within an hour of clinching the Western Conference title to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, to talk about the allegations against Aldrich, but no action was taken for three weeks.
TSN also has reported team management denied a request from Gary to contact Chicago Police about the sexual assault claims.
McDonough finally informed the team’s human resources department about the sexual assault claims on June 14, and Aldrich resigned two days later, according to the independent investigation’s report.
According to Schar, during that time, not only was Aldrich allowed to continue to work and travel with the team but was allowed to participate in Stanley Cup championship celebrations in the presence of his accuser, and also made an unwanted sexual advance toward a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern.
Of seeing Aldrich being honored with the team, Beach told TSN: “(T)he only way I could describe it was that I felt sick, I felt sick to my stomach. I reported this and I was made aware that it made it all the way up the chain of command by ‘Doc’ (James) Gary and nothing happened. It was like his life was the same as the day before. Same every day. And then when they won, to see him paraded around lifting the Cup, at the parade, at the team pictures, at celebrations, it made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel like, that I wasn’t important and…it made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong.”
Beach further claimed Gary told him it was his own fault, because he put himself in the situation.
Further, Beach said, word spread quickly among the team and people made nasty comments win the locker room and on the ice.
Aldrich went on to plead guilty in 2013 to misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct with a former Michigan high school hockey player, who also has sued the Blackhawks for negligence. TSN asked Beach about that later allegation, and Beach was tearful when he talked about it.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t do more, when I could, to make sure it didn’t happen to him. To protect him,” Beach said of the Michigan victim. “But I also wanted to say thank you to him. Because when I decided, after a teammate asked me about it when I was playing overseas, and I decided to Google Brad Aldrich’s name and that’s when I found out about the Michigan individual, the Michigan team. And because of what happened to him, it gave me the power and the sense of urgency to take action, to make sure it didn’t happen to anybody else.”
Beach has sued the Blackhawks for negligence, leading to an independent investigation that resulted in those members of the top team brass resigning this week.
“I think that the step the Blackhawks took yesterday is a great step in the right direction,” Beach said. “They accepted accountability and they took actions necessary, albeit too late.”
Of the executives and coaches at that June 2010 meeting regarding the allegations against Aldrich, former assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and former head coach Joel Quenneville are the only ones currently employed by the NHL – Cheveldayoff as GM of the Winnipeg Jets, and Quenneville as head coach of the Florida Panthers – and the league plans to meet with them regarding the investigation’s findings.
Beach blamed the NHL as a whole for failing him.
“The NHL is inclusive; the NHL includes everybody. And they let me down and they’ve let down others as well. But they continue to try and protect their name over the health and the well-being of the people who put their lives on the line every day to make the NHL what it is,” he said. “I hope through and through that Gary Bettman takes this seriously and that he does his due diligence, that he talks to not only them, but Stan Bowman, John McDonough, and anybody else that has information to offer before he makes his decision. Because they already let me down, they wouldn’t investigate for me, so why would they now?”
The Blackhawks released a statement late Wednesday after Beach identified himself:
“First, we would like to acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach’s courage in coming forward. As an organization, the Chicago Blackhawks reiterate our deepest apologies to him for what he has gone through and for the organization’s failure to promptly respond when he bravely brought this matter to light in 2010. It was inexcusable for the then-executives of the Blackhawks organization to delay taking action regarding the reported sexual misconduct. No playoff game or championship is more important than protecting our players and staff from predatory behavior.
The Blackhawks have implemented numerous changes and improvements within the organization, including hiring a new leadership team that is committed to winning championships while adhering to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards.”
After the game Wednesday night, the only two remaining Blackhawks from the 2010 team – Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews – spoke about Beach and his remarks.
“I didn’t know anything at the time, and you know, even today – when, you know, Kyle came out as John Doe – that’s the first time I knew that it was him,” Kane said. “Very courageous for him to come out. I knew Kyle pretty well from a couple different training camps – wish back then we could have done some different things or knew about some different things; that maybe we could have helped him.”
“I had not heard about it until training camp the next year. The truth is a lot of us were focused on just playing hockey and doing what we were doing every single day, and you know, if you do hear rumors, it’s almost just in the back of your mind,” said Toews. “Now when you go through the detail of it all, it looks ugly, and it’s really hard to stomach the fact that you don’t dive into something like that a little bit more.MORE NEWS: Murray throws for 2 TDs, runs for 2 as Cardinals beat Bears
Beach says he also wants former Coach Quenneville held responsible. Coach Q is currently coach of the Florida Panthers, and he is expected to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday.