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The NHL Players’ Association has released the findings of a probe that looked into the union’s handling of sex assault allegations from former Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach, who reported alleged abuse by a coach to union brass in 2010. 

The review, conducted by law firm Cozen O’Connor, determined there was no wrongdoing on the part of the union and its head, Donald Fehr, in their handling of the allegations, after the player reported the incident to association doctors but saw no action taken against his abuser, former Blackhawks assistant coach Brad Aldrich. 

The report, commissioned in November after NHL players voted to launch an independent investigation by outside legal counsel due to the union’s mishandling of the allegations, and whether or not the players’ association and its head were made aware of the abuse and did their duties properly.  

‘We cannot identify any individual wrongdoing or institutional failures of policy by either Fehr, NHLPA personnel, or the SABH program concerning the handling of Beach’s reports,’ the report states.

The review, released Friday afternoon, asserted that instead of negligence or a cover-up on the part of union staff, miscommunication was to blame for the lack of action taken against Aldrich, who left the team at the end of the 2010 season after coaches made aware of the assault by Beach pressured him to resign.

‘Beach’s warnings about Aldrich were not addressed on account of miscommunication and misunderstanding, rather than any individual or systemic failure,’ the review further asserted. 

The results from the probe come roughly six months after another independent investigation, commissioned by the Blackhawks, found club brass failed to act after Beach told senior staffers that Aldrich had sexually assaulted the then 20-year-old during the team’s successful postseason run in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. 

A probe has discovered there was no wrongdoing on the part of the union in their handling of the allegations of former Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach, after the player reported he was sexually assaulted by a coach on the Chicago club to association doctors, but saw no action taken against his abuser

A probe has discovered there was no wrongdoing on the part of the union in their handling of the allegations of former Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach, after the player reported he was sexually assaulted by a coach on the Chicago club to association doctors, but saw no action taken against his abuser

A probe has discovered there was no wrongdoing on the part of the union in their handling of the allegations of former Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach, after the player reported he was sexually assaulted by a coach on the Chicago club to association doctors, but saw no action taken against his abuser

Beach, 31, was a member of the Chicago club’s minor league affiliate team at the time of the assault, and was called up the main squad during that year’s postseason.

Beach, who currently plays professionally in Germany, revealed the sexual assault during an interview with Canadian sports network TSN in October, after a decade of being referred to in internal NHL documents that chronicled the player’s allegations.

During the interview – which came one day after the report chronicling a team investigation into the May 2010 incident at Aldrich’s apartment was made public – Beach said he felt an overwhelming sense of ‘relief and vindication’ upon the report’s release, which spurred him to finally oust himself as the anonymous accuser.  

‘It was a day of many emotions,’ Beach said during the Wednesday interview. ‘I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more.’ 

‘It was no longer my word against everybody else’s.’  

The 107-page document referred to Beach as ‘John Doe,’ and determined that ‘nothing was done’ by Blackhawks staff in 2010 after Beach repeatedly reported he had been sexually assaulted and harassed by then video coach Aldrich. 

The independent review by law firm Cozen O’Connor found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the union and its director Donald Fehr (pictured) in their handling of the allegations

The independent review by law firm Cozen O’Connor found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the union and its director Donald Fehr (pictured) in their handling of the allegations

The independent review by law firm Cozen O’Connor found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the union and its director Donald Fehr (pictured) in their handling of the allegations

Beach, who currently plays professionally in Germany , first revealed the sexual assault during an interview with Canadian sports network TSN in October, after a decade of being referred to in internal NHL documents that chronicled the player's allegations

Beach, who currently plays professionally in Germany , first revealed the sexual assault during an interview with Canadian sports network TSN in October, after a decade of being referred to in internal NHL documents that chronicled the player's allegations

Beach, who currently plays professionally in Germany , first revealed the sexual assault during an interview with Canadian sports network TSN in October, after a decade of being referred to in internal NHL documents that chronicled the player’s allegations 

Blackhawks draft pick Beach, 31, was a member of the Chicago club's minor league affiliate team at the time of the alleged assault, and was called up the main squad during that year's postseason

Blackhawks draft pick Beach, 31, was a member of the Chicago club's minor league affiliate team at the time of the alleged assault, and was called up the main squad during that year's postseason

Blackhawks draft pick Beach, 31, was a member of the Chicago club’s minor league affiliate team at the time of the alleged assault, and was called up the main squad during that year’s postseason 

A 107-page document made public in October referred to Beach as 'John Doe,' and found that 'nothing was done' by Blackhawks brass in 2010 after Beach told senior staffers that he had been sexually assaulted and harassed by then video coach Aldrich

A 107-page document made public in October referred to Beach as 'John Doe,' and found that 'nothing was done' by Blackhawks brass in 2010 after Beach told senior staffers that he had been sexually assaulted and harassed by then video coach Aldrich

A 107-page document made public in October referred to Beach as ‘John Doe,’ and found that ‘nothing was done’ by Blackhawks brass in 2010 after Beach told senior staffers that he had been sexually assaulted and harassed by then video coach Aldrich

According to the report, commissioned by the Blackhawks and carried out by former U.S. attorney Reid Schar, the encounter between Beach and Aldrich, then 27, took place on May 8 or 9 in 2010. 

During the encounter, Aldrich invited Beach to his apartment, ‘provided him with dinner and drinks,’ and ‘told him he had the power to get [Beach] onto the Blackhawks’ roster,’ and proceeded to turn on pornography, the report details.

The report also states that Aldrich threatened Beach with a souvenir baseball bat before forcibly performing oral sex on him and masturbating on his back, telling Beach that ‘he needed to act like he enjoyed the sexual encounter’ or he ‘would never play in the NHL “or walk” again’ – allegations that Beach also detailed in a lawsuit filed against the Blackhawks in May of this year.  

Aldrich, however, told investigators the encounter was consensual – a sentiment that Beach vehemently denies.

Former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich allegedly sexually assaulted the then 20-year-old during the team's successful postseason run during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, before being forced to resign by the team's top brass

Former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich allegedly sexually assaulted the then 20-year-old during the team's successful postseason run during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, before being forced to resign by the team's top brass

Former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich allegedly sexually assaulted the then 20-year-old during the team’s successful postseason run during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, before being forced to resign by the team’s top brass

The ex-video coach was convicted of another sex crime in 2014, against a minor in Michigan in 2014. He is now a registered sex offender, and was sentenced to nine months in prison for the assault. 

After the document’s unveiling, the NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million for the ‘organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.’

 The probe’s release also prompted a response from the NHLPA, who said in an official statement they had let Beach down by failing to take action after the player reported the incident to association doctors.

‘Kyle Beach has been through a horrific experience and has shown true courage in telling his story,’ said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr.

‘There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need. 

The National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) issued a statement Wednesday saying they had also let Beach down by failing to take action after the player reported the incident to association doctors.

‘Kyle Beach has been through a horrific experience and has shown true courage in telling his story,’ said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr.

‘There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need. 

‘We are part of that system.’  

The probe’s release also prompted the team’s general manager, Stan Bowman, to resign that day, as well as the Blackhawks’ senior vice president of hockey operations, Al MacIsaac – who both served on the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team.

The team’s then coach, Joel Quenneville, who now coaches another NHL team, the Florida Panthers, is also scheduled to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Thursday to discuss his role in the handling of the incident, the club announced Wednesday. 

With the pair’s departure, there are no longer any members of the 2010 Blackhawks front office still with the team. 

Joel Quenneville, who coached the team at the time of the assault, resigned as coach of the Florida Panthers following the report’s release as well. 

The probe's release Tuesday prompted the team's general manager, Stan Bowman, to resign

The probe's release Tuesday prompted the team's general manager, Stan Bowman, to resign

The probe’s release Tuesday prompted the team’s general manager, Stan Bowman, to resign

In the October interview, Beach revealed that he then notified the team’s skill coach at the time, Paul Vincent, of the alleged assault.

Beach met with Vincent at the team hotel in San Jose sometime during the 2010 playoffs, and told the senior staffer what had happened, identifying Aldrich by name.

Vincent then reported the incident to members of the Blackhawks front office, who allowed Aldrich to stay with the team through the Stanley Cup run.

The report further reveals that on May 23, 2010, Blackhawks executives held a meeting about the sexual assault claims and decided they would not address them until after the playoffs.

The matter was then never discussed again, the report reveals.

The team's then-coach, Joel Quenneville, who now coaches another NHL team, the Florida Panthers, is also scheduled to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Thursday to discuss his role in the handling of the incident

The team's then-coach, Joel Quenneville, who now coaches another NHL team, the Florida Panthers, is also scheduled to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Thursday to discuss his role in the handling of the incident

Former Blackhawks skill coach Paul Vincent told the team's front office about the assault, but no action was taken after the fact

Former Blackhawks skill coach Paul Vincent told the team's front office about the assault, but no action was taken after the fact

Former Blackhawks skill coach Paul Vincent told the team’s front office about the assault, but no action was taken after the fact

Beach also detailed to TSN how he felt distraught and on edge during the days after his conversation with Vincent – noticing that the team was not taking his allegations seriously.

‘To be honest, I was scared mostly,’ Beach recalled.

‘I was fearful. I had my career threatened. I felt alone and dark. It’s tough to recall these moments.

‘Mostly, I felt like I was alone and there was nothing I could do and nobody to turn to for help.

‘As a 20-year-old, you could never imagine being put in this situation by somebody who is supposed to be there to help you and make you a better hockey player, and person, and help you build your career.’

However, the next month, five days after Chicago won the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks human resources director met with Aldrich, giving him the option to resign or face termination if Beach’s claims turned out to be true. 

Aldrich chose to resign, and was permitted to participate in postseason celebrations, according to the investigation findings.

Aldrich received a severance and a playoff bonus, according to the report, and he was paid a salary ‘for several months.’ He hosted the Stanley Cup for a day in his hometown, and his name was engraved on the iconic trophy. 

When asked by Westhead how it made him feel to see Aldrich remain with the team during the successful postseason, Beach said: ‘The 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,’ Beach explained.

‘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.

‘And that’s also what Doc Gary told me, that it was my fault because I put myself in that situation. And the combination of these and him being paraded around, then letting him take the Stanley Cup to a high school with kids after they knew what had happened.’

Beach also said he was let down by the NHL and wanted Commissioner Bettman to take the report’s findings seriously.

‘They continue to try and protect their name over the health and the well-being of the people that 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.’

After the interview aired, the Blackhawks issued a statement.

‘First, we would like to acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach’s courage in coming forward,’ the team announced following the former Chicago draft pick’s October admission.

‘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.’ 

Source: Daily Mail

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