Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin says during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks he was "not aware" of sexual assault allegations made during the 2010 playoffs by an unidentified former player in the organization against a then-assistant coach.
“It came out recently. There was a meeting that I’ve heard was done in Chicago. I was not part of any meeting and I was not part of any decision based on that. I was not aware of what was going on at the time. You can go on the record with that," Bergevin told reporters Sunday during the Stanley Cup Final media day.
Bergevin, who was serving as director of pro personnel at the time, was referring to a reported meeting between then-skills coach Paul Vincent and team executives, including team president John McDonough and general manager Stan Bowman, during which Vincent says he told management to report the allegations to Chicago police but that his request was rejected.
The former Blackhawks player has filed a lawsuit against the organization and ex-assistant coach Bradley Aldrich, who after leaving the team was convicted in 2013 in Michigan of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a student and is now on that state’s registry of sex offenders.
The former's player's attorney, Susan Loggans, says inaction by the Blackhawks allowed Aldrich to go on and assault the Michigan student, and possibly others.
The lawsuit, filed on May 7 in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges Aldrich also assaulted another unidentified Blackhawks player. The former player who sued and is seeking more than $150,000 in damages is referred in the document as “John Doe.”
According to TSN, two Blackhawks players told Vincent in May 2010 of inappropriate behaviour by Aldrich.
The eight-page lawsuit says Aldrich, then a video coach, “turned on porn and began to masturbate in front of” the player without his consent. It says Aldrich also threatened to “physically, financially and emotionally” hurt the player if he “did not engage in sexual activity” with him.
Chicago public radio station WBEZ obtained police records for its latest report this week that indicated Aldrich faced other allegations of unwanted sexual contact, including when he worked at Miami University after leaving the Blackhawks.
An attorney for Aldrich told WBEZ that his client denies the allegations in the lawsuit. In a May statement to the radio station, the Blackhawks said the allegations directed at it were groundless.
According to the lawsuit, the former player reported the allegation at the time to the team’s then-mental skills coach, James F. Gary. It says Gary “convinced plaintiff that the sexual assault was his fault.”
Gary, who has since retired, told WBEZ he didn’t know “anything about this.” Vincent told TSN he had asked Gary to follow up, a request that preceded his meeting with team executives.
The former student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting filed a separate lawsuit against the Blackhawks on May 26, saying the Blackhawks provided positive references to future employers of Aldrich despite allegations from at least one player and took no action to report the matter.
That suit says the student was a hockey player at Houghton High School near Hancock in 2013 when Aldrich sexually assaulted him at an end-of-season gathering.
Loggans also represents the student, referred to a “John Doe 2” in the lawsuit. She confirmed to WBEZ that he was the student Aldrich was convicted of assaulting.
“Had the Blackhawks accurately reported what had occurred with John Doe 1, then Aldrich would never have been allowed to be in a position where he could molest other people,” Loggans said.
Houghton police records obtained by WBEZ said Aldrich resigned as director of hockey operations at Miami University of Ohio in 2012 “under suspicion of unwanted touching of a male adult.” The school said it has launched an internal investigation.
The records cited repeated allegations from Aldrich’s time as an assistant high school hockey coach in Houghton. The precise timing of his departure from the Blackhawks is unclear.
The police records say investigators reached out to the Blackhawks about Aldrich but its front office would confirm only that he was once an employee.
A lawyer for Aldrich responded to the WBEZ report by noting that his conviction was a matter of public record and added that “any publication of untrue material by WBEZ will be treated as libelous.”
With files from The Associated Press