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Former Blackhawks Star Kyle Beach Comes Forward as Player Who Made Sexual Assault Complaint

·5-min read
Kyle Beach
Kyle Beach

City-Press via Getty Images

Kyle Beach, a former Chicago Blackhawks star, has come forward as the John Doe who accused the team's former video coordinator Brad Aldrich of sexual assault.

On Wednesday evening, Beach, 31, took part in a televised interview with Canada's The Sports Network's show SportsCentre, where he revealed that he was the individual who filed a lawsuit against his former team over how his sexual assault allegations were handled.

Eleven years ago, Beach had alleged to higher-up members of the Blackhawks' team that Aldrich sexually assaulted him, but his claims were ignored until after the team won the Stanley Cup later that season, according to the conclusions of an investigation that was commissioned by the Blackhawks and made public Tuesday.

Per the report, Aldrich invited Beach to his apartment for dinner and drinks in May 2010. The hockey star has alleged that Aldrich sexually assaulted him that night while threatening his position with the hockey team. Aldrich has said the encounter was consensual and has denied making any threats.

Kyle Beach; Brad Aldrich
Kyle Beach; Brad Aldrich

Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images; Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Beach reported the encounter to mental skills coach and team counselor Jim Gary, who brought Beach's allegations to other team leaders, including then-President John McDonough, then-Senior Vice President Jay Blunk, then-Assistant General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and then-head coach Joel Quenneville. The investigators' report noted that some witnesses recalled discussion about the need to avoid bad publicity amid the ongoing playoffs.

After winning the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks' director of human resources met with Aldrich and offered for him to either resign or undergo an investigation into Beach's claims.

The former video coach chose to resign, though he still received severance and a playoff bonus, all while he continued to earn a salary for several months, per the report. Three years later, after a separate incident, Aldrich was arrested and pled guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor.

Aldrich did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, but according to the report he has continued to assert that the encounter with Beach was consensual, and has denied threatening Beach.

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In his candid on-camera interview with SportsCentre, Beach spoke about the 107-page report and how he felt "relief and vindication," saying "it was no longer my word against everybody else's."

Kyle Beach
Kyle Beach

David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock

"[The day the report was released] was a day of many emotions. I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more," Beach said, then noting that "it was very special and important to me to have that truth come out."

When asked about the emotions he felt following the encounter with Aldrich, Beach explained, "I was scared mostly. I was fearful. I had my career threatened. I felt alone and dark."

"I felt like I was alone and there was nothing I could do and nobody I could turn to for help. And I didn't know what to do as a 20-year-old," he added. "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."

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Beach said he "buried" the alleged abuse for several years "and it's destroyed me from the inside out." But he said he did so as it was "what I thought I had to do to survive, to continue chasing my dream."

"It was to not think about it, to not talk about it, ignore it and that's all I could do. I was threatened and my career was on the line," he continued. "And if I had that in my head, there was no way I was gonna perform at the top of my capabilities."

The memory, Beach added, is something that he is now only "beginning" to come to terms with. "I've suppressed this memory and buried this memory to chase my dreams and pursue the career that I loved and the game that I love."

"The healing process is just beginning, and [the report being released] was a huge step in that process," Beach continued. "But, until very recently, I did not talk about it, I did not discuss it, I didn't think about it. And now that I'm beginning to heal, I begin to look back and it definitely had impacts on my life. I did stupid things, I acted out, I snapped…I did things that I never could imagine doing. I relied on alcohol, I relied on drugs and … I'm just so relieved with the news that came out ... and I can truly begin the healing process."

After Beach's interview aired, the Blackhawks issued a statement on social media Wednesday, writing "First, we would like to acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach's courage in coming forward."

"As an organization, the Chicago Blackhawks reiterate our deepest apologies to him for what he has gone through and for the organization's failure to promptly respond when he bravely brought this matter to light in 2010. It was inexcusable for the then-executives of the Blackhawks organization to delay taking action regarding the reported sexual misconduct. No playoff game or championship is more important than protecting our players and staff from predatory behavior," the statement continued.

The hockey team stressed that they "have implemented numerous changes and improvements within the organization, including hiring a new leadership team that is committed to winning championships while adhering to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards."

Following the release of the report, General manager Stan Bowman resigned, and senior director of hockey operations Al MacIsaac has also left the team, according to ESPN. Both were members of the Blackhawks at the time that Beach brought his allegations forward.

Per the outlet, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman will meet with Panthers coach Quenneville, who was then the Blackhawks head coach, and Winnipeg general manager Cheveldayoff, who was then with the Blackhawks front office, to discuss their alleged involvement.

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