Editor's note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be upsetting or offensive to some readers. If you or someone you know is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references for survivors and their loved ones can be found here.
Three men are considering lawsuits against the Chicago Blackhawks in relation to the Brad Aldrich scandal, a lawyer representing the men confirmed to Sportsnet.
Christopher Cortese, from the Chicago law firm Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, told Sportsnet that he and his clients are speaking to the Blackhawks but are prepared to file separate lawsuits in Chicago if resolutions cannot be reached.
The Blackhawks did not respond to a request for comment.
The news of the three potential lawsuits was first reported by TSN’s Rick Westhead. The three men were identified by Cortese as John Doe 3, Black Ace 1 and Paul Vincent. None of the allegations made by the three men have been proven in court.
John Doe 3 told Westhead that he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich — a former video coach with the Blackhawks — in October of 2012. At the time, John Doe 3 was a student at Miami (of Ohio) University and Aldrich was a video coach with the school’s men's hockey team.
Aldrich resigned from Miami University in November of 2012. An investigation commissioned by the school determined there were two credible allegations of sexual assault against Aldrich that occurred between July and November of that year.
Aldrich pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual assault and was sentenced to nine months in jail for an unrelated incident involving a high school hockey player in Michigan in 2013. He is now a registered sex offender in that state.
Black Ace 1 and Vincent were part of the Blackhawks organization in the spring of 2010 when Kyle Beach — another former player — says he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich. Vincent was a skills coach with the team at the time and claimed in an interview with TSN that he was demoted for speaking up on behalf of Beach and Black Ace 1.
In the spring of 2010 — during the Blackhawks’ run to the Stanley Cup — Vincent reported allegations against Aldrich to Blackhawks management. However, as was publicly revealed during a report conducted by Jenner & Block that was published last October — management chose to not act on Vincent’s report until mid-June, after the Stanley Cup was won.
Following the release of the Jenner & Block report, hockey operations executive Al MacIsaac and general manager Stan Bowman resigned from their posts with the Blackhawks while Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville — who was the Blackhawks coach at the time — resigned as well. The Blackhawks settled a lawsuit with Beach in December for an undisclosed amount following mediation.
Black Ace 1 is featured frequently in the Jenner & Block report. He told investigators that he received inappropriate text messages from Aldrich — including one that included a photo of a penis.
Black Ace 1 also told investigators that he did not have a sexual encounter with Aldrich, but that rumours about a relationship between him and Aldrich still followed him for multiple years afterwards.
The Blackhawks are still looking for a new general manager to replace Bowman and recently created a search committee that includes former players Eddie Olczyk, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. On Wednesday, the team hosted a public town hall meeting with fans, media and other stakeholders to provide an update on the search.
During the town hall, team chairman Rocky Wirtz angrily responded to questions from two reporters about what the organization was doing to ensure that incidents like the ones outlined in the Jenner & Block report don't happen again.
"What we're going to do today is our business, I don't think it's any of your business," Wirtz said.
When asked why, Wirtz responded "Because I don't think it's any of your business. You don't work for the company."
"If someone in the company asks that question, we'll answer it," Wirtz continued. "And I think you should get on to the next subject. We're not going to talk about Kyle Beach, we're not going to talk about anything that happened. Now we're moving on, what more do I have to say? Do you want to keep asking the same question, and hear the same answer?"
Wirtz later apologized for his remarks in a statement late Wednesday night, adding that “We have the right leaders and right processes in place to create a safe environment for our employees and players.”
When asked about Wirtz’s outburst, Cortese told Sportsnet, "I think the message of wanting to keep it in the past is not fair to the survivors who live it in their present and in their future."
"What the Blackhawks have done and continue to do is whatever it takes to protect their brand and as a result innocent people were injured,” he added.