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A second former player sues Chicago Blackhawks accusing former coach of sexual assault

A second former player has sued the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, accusing the team of overlooking his complaints that then-video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him leading up to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. Attorneys for the unnamed player, who is referred to as “John Doe” in the lawsuit, say he was inspired by former Blackhawks player Kyle Beach, who sued the team in 2021 over its handling of similar sexual assault allegations Beach made against Aldrich in 2010.

The lawsuit filed last week says the Blackhawks put “Stanley Cup Championship aspirations ahead of the welfare of its players and provided cover to a sexual predator on its coaching staff who groomed, harassed, threatened, and assaulted John Doe.”

Doe was a member of the Black Aces, a group of prospective players who are available to play if a roster player is unable to participate, including in cases of injury or suspension, according to the lawsuit.

The former player accuses Aldrich of being “overtly and aggressively sexual” toward him and threatening Doe’s career to “coerce” him to not report the coach’s actions, which included attempting to make Doe and others watch pornographic movies with him, the lawsuit says. Among the other accusations is that on several occasions during the 2009-2010 season and Stanley Cup Playoffs, Aldrich “approached John Doe from behind, grabbed him in a hugging gesture, and ground his penis against John Doe’s back and buttocks through his clothes,” the lawsuit states. CNN has sought comment from Aldrich.

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“Coach Aldrich’s predatory tendencies, including specifically those directed against John Doe, were well-known to [the Blackhawks],” the lawsuit says, noting that Doe raised at least one incident to the Blackhawks president’s secretary and also spoke to the team counselor about his concerns. The Blackhawks declined to comment on specific details of the suit, in a Monday statement, citing ongoing litigation.

“The Chicago Blackhawks take allegations of workplace misconduct and organizational response very seriously, and it’s why, over two years ago, we commissioned an extensive independent investigation into the troubling events that occurred in 2010,” the team’s statement said. The Blackhawks commissioned an independent probe after a player – later identified as Beach – sued the team in 2021, saying Aldrich had sexually assaulted him in May 2010 and alleging the team became aware of the incident but failed to address it.

The probe determined that there had been a sexual encounter at Aldrich’s apartment between the coach and the player, who had been called to serve as a Black Ace during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Aldrich said that the encounter was consensual, the report says. The report concluded that Aldrich had engaged in sexual misconduct in 2010 and senior Blackhawks leaders failed to “promptly and thoroughly investigate” Beach’s assault allegation.

In response,  the NHL fined  the Blackhawks $2 million for what it described as “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.”

The Blackhawks said Monday that it has “changed as a result of what happened and implemented numerous positive improvements throughout our organization to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our players and employees.”

Beach reached a confidential settlement with the team in 2021.

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Beach’s decision to speak out about the allegations helped the second player bring his own lawsuit against the team last week, said Antonio Romanucci, one of the attorneys representing Doe.

“Having somebody like Kyle Beach, who was a known player, someone who was very well known, to come forward – that’s what gave him the courage,” Romanucci said at a news conference Monday.

“John Doe feels an immense amount of personal shame, guilt, embarrassment, and it took a long while for him to reconcile and now have this laudatory courage to come forward and make his allegations public,” Romanucci said. Romanucci said Doe’s legal team plans to seek “way in excess” of $300,000 in damages. Aldrich resigned from the Blackhawks in 2010. He later went on to be a volunteer coach at a high school in Houghton, Michigan, where he was arrested and pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor in 2013.

CNN’s Joe Sutton, Kevin Dotson, David Close and Wayne Sterling contributed to this report. © 2023 Cable News Network. A Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All Rights Reserved. CNN Sans ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network. Credit – CNN

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