Blackhawks reach settlement in alleged 2010 sexual assault case
No monetary amount was disclosed.
Hawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz and CEO Danny Wirtz and Beach’s attorney, Susan Loggans, released this joint statement:
"The parties are pleased to announce that today’s mediation resulted in a confidential settlement between the Blackhawks and Kyle Beach. The Blackhawks hope that this resolution will bring some measure of peace and closure for Mr. Beach."
"As for the Blackhawks organization, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that, going forward, this team will be a beacon for professionalism, respect and integrity in our community. We remain grateful for the trust and support of the Blackhawks community, and we promise to continue working every day to earn and maintain that trust."
The settlement brings to a close a major chapter in Beach’s legal battle with the team. He sued the Hawks in May over their handling of his sexual assault allegations in 2010 against then-video coach Brad Aldrich.
Beach, initially identified as John Doe in the lawsuit, argued that Aldrich threatened physical and financial harm if Beach didn’t engage in sex acts, which Beach alleges he carried out.
The Hawks initially said the claims lacked merit but hired law firm Jenner & Block to conduct an independent investigation. The firm’s report found that top Hawks officials delayed reporting the allegations about Aldrich to the team’s human resources department until after the Hawks won the Stanley Cup and that the team paid Aldrich severance to resign.
The allegations were not reported to Chicago police, according to the firm’s report.
Second lawsuit hangs in the balance
In the wake of the Jenner & Block report, Hawks president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman resigned. Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, who coached the Hawks in 2010, stepped down days later.
Both Quenneville and Bowman took part in a meeting of Hawks senior managers in May 2010 to address Beach’s complaint, but no action was taken for three weeks.
According to Jenner & Block’s findings, "the Blackhawks’ own sexual harassment policy – which required investigation of all reports of sexual harassment to be conducted 'promptly and thoroughly' – was violated. The failure to promptly and thoroughly investigate the matter and the decision to take no action from May 23 to June 14 had consequences."
The report also found that during that period, Aldrich was accused of "physically grabbing (a Hawks) intern in a sexual manner."
On the day the report was released to the public, the Wirtzes instructed their legal team to reach a "fair resolution" with Beach.
But team lawyers reached an impasse with Beach’s attorney, and both parties agreed to a mediator. Talks were scheduled to take place Wednesday.
What remains uncertain is where this leaves negotiations with John Doe 2, a former hockey player for Houghton High School in Michigan who sued the Hawks in a separate case.
Aldrich pleaded guilty in 2013 to misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct with the then-student and had to register as a sex offender.
Loggans told the Tribune earlier that mediation over Beach’s settlement would set the tone for John Doe 2′s lawsuit.
Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire