Former Blackhawks player at center of sexual abuse probe reveals identity
Former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach revealed on Wednesday that it was he who filed a sexual assault lawsuit against the team earlier this year.
In June, Beach, only identified at the time as John Doe, sued the team alleging that former video coach Bradley Aldrich had sexually abused players and threatened to “physically, financially and emotionally” hurt them if they did not engage in sexual acts with him in May 2010.
In an emotional interview with The Sports Network’s Rick Westhead, Beach said that being called up to the Blackhawks in 2010 was an “extremely special moment” for him and his family, but that the abuse that occurred a few weeks later “tainted” those memories.
Westhead did not press Beach to describe the nature of the abuse he suffered but asked what he felt immediately following the incident.
“To be honest, I was scared mostly. I was fearful. I had my career threatened. I felt alone and dark,” Beach said, his voice catching.
“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. Just scared and alone with no idea what to do,” he said.
Beach said that when he told his family of the abuse, his mother “cried for days” because she “felt responsible.”
In the lawsuit, the player now known to be Beach said that when he approached now-retired mental skills coach James Gary about the abuse, Gary responded by saying it was Beach’s own fault, though Gary has refuted ever being made aware of Aldrich’s actions.
Aldrich stayed with the Blackhawks for several more weeks after the allegations against him were made known to management. Beach said seeing Aldrich celebrate the 2010 Stanley Cup win during this time made him feel “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’ Gary and nothing happened. It was like his life was the same as the day before,” he told Westhead.
“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,” he added.
Aldrich was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor in 2013 and sentenced to nine months in prison in 2014.
Beach, who currently plays for Germany’s Black Dragons hockey team, said that he decided to come forward now as part of his “process of recovery,” adding he wanted to “put my name on this.” He said that by coming forward he wanted everyone in the sports world who has been abused to know that “you’re not alone.”
On Tuesday, Chicago Blackhawks general manager and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman resigned in light of reports detailing how the team had handled the sexual assault allegations. The report from the law firm Jenner & Block LLP corroborated much of Beach’s allegations and found that no action was taken on the reported abuse until June 14, days after the team had won the Stanley Cup.
Beach said that Bowman’s resignation was “a step in the right direction,” though it was “too late” in coming.
Don Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players Association (NHLPA), commended Beach for showing “true courage in telling his story” in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need, and we are part of that system,” said Fehr. He noted that Beach had relayed the allegations to an NHLPA doctor and acknowledged that while this communication is generally regarded as confidential, these claims should have resulted in further action.
“The fact that it did not was a serious failure. I am truly sorry, and I am committed to making changes to ensure it does not happen again,” he said.