Investigators investigating alleged abuse of former Blackhawks players ask, “Who knew? “ – .

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Former Blackhawks player describes alleged sexual assault in new court case – .


For 45 minutes last Friday morning, former Chicago Blackhawks player Nick Boynton joined a Zoom call with lawyers hired by the franchise to share his memories of abuse allegations that surfaced for the first time in the team’s playoffs in 2010.

Boynton, who was joined on the video call by his attorney, told four attorneys at Jenner & Block law firm he remembered how the former Blackhawks moved forward Jake Dowell first told him during the 2010 NHL playoffs that two of their teammates had been sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich, who was then Chicago’s video coach.

Boynton told investigators that at the request of those teammates, he approached skills coach Paul Vincent, hoping the retired cop would convince club management to fire Aldrich and report the allegations to police.

Boynton, who played seven games with the Blackhawks in the 2009-10 championship season and 41 games with the team the following year, said in his interview with Zoom that many of Chicago’s top stars were aware of the abuse. , from their conversations in the locker room. .

“They asked me who knew and I gave them names, basically everyone on the team,” Boynton told TSN in an interview Wednesday. “I said everyone knew about it. I said you can talk to the coaches. … I said talk to Torch [former assistant coach John Torchetti]. I called Brian Campbell, and say talk to Patrick Sharp and talk to Kaner [Patrick Kane]. … The training staff knew. I’m sick of this wall of silence.

Dowell disputes Boynton’s memory.

“It’s foggy for me,” Dowell said in an interview. “I remember after Brad was fired after 2010, we started hearing rumblings, but I don’t know how real it was. “

Dowell was one of the Black Aces of the Blackhawks (minor league players who trained with the NHL team during the playoffs and were on hold for injuries) and said he has a good relationship with Aldrich.

“For young players who are trying to be successful in the NHL, [Aldrich] was a good resource, ”said Dowell. “He was telling us what the game plan was and who was doing well. He was watching the video, giving us information on our position with the coaches. This is how I remember him. For me, it was about where I am and if I will ever sniff in the NHL. He was a coach and I was a player.

Former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, who worked with Aldrich for two seasons before Aldrich was fired by Chicago in 2010, said he was unaware of the allegations against his former assistant until to what the media are reporting this year. Quenneville now coaches the Florida Panthers.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said he first learned of the allegations before training camp in fall 2010 and was “annoyed” that an unidentified former Blackhawks player told The Athletic website that everything everyone in the team was aware of the alleged incidents.

Boynton said investigators “seemed disgusted” by what he told them and said he hoped the Chicago law firm would not whitewash the investigation.

“Looks like they’re going to do the best job they can,” Boynton said. “I have a good feeling with them and I like to hope that they do what they are supposed to do. “

It’s been a month since the Blackhawks hired Jenner & Block to independently investigate the abuse allegations made in a pair of lawsuits.

A lawsuit, filed by a former Blackhawks player named John Doe 1, alleges team management covered up the sexual abuse of two players at the hands of Aldrich. A second lawsuit alleges that after being quietly fired in the summer of 2010, Aldrich always received a positive employment reference which enabled him to find other victims, including a teenage Michigan hockey player Aldrich was convicted of sexual assault in 2013.

None of the allegations against the Blackhawks have been proven in court.

Players’ agent Ritch Winter, who represents the former Blackhawks Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky, said he had not been contacted by Jenner & Block about setting up interviews with former players. Winter said if contacted, he would recommend players speak to investigators.

It’s unclear what kind of cooperation other players and Blackhawks staff will provide.

Vincent told TSN in an interview that the two Blackhawks players shared their abuse with him on or around May 16, 2010, before the Western Conference Finals opener in San Jose. Vincent said he asked team sports psychologist James Gary to follow up.

Vincent said a day later that he was called to a meeting at the team’s hotel in San Jose with team president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac and Gary. Vincent said he asked team leaders to go to the Chicago Police Department’s sex crimes unit, but they refused.

Although investigators have contacted him to request an interview, Vincent said he will not speak to Jenner & Block’s attorneys unless they promise in writing to make the findings of their investigation public.

Brent Sopel, a former Blackhawks defenseman who told TSN in an interview that most of the team’s players and coaches are aware of the abuse allegations, also refuses to cooperate with Jenner & Block unless the law firm promises to make his investigation report public.

Jenner & Block has repeatedly referred questions about the investigation to the Blackhawks, who have declined to discuss the scope of the investigation or what the team will do with the report once it’s completed.

There is no industry standard for the disclosure of independent investigation results.

In 2014, the National Football League disclosed the full 144-page report on the bullying of a former Miami Dolphins player who left the team mid-season and was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

A 2018 report detailing the toxic culture within the Dallas Mavericks organization was also leaked in full. The report prompted team owner Mark Cuban to donate $ 10 million to domestic violence agencies.

Earlier this year, however, Major League Baseball banned former Toronto Blue Jays player Roberto Alomar for alleged inappropriate conduct, but declined to release an investigative report.

On July 1, the NFL announced it would fine owner Dan Snyder’s Washington team of $ 10 million after an independent investigation examined allegations of impropriety and sexual misconduct within the organization.

In that case, in which team employees and reporters covering the club alleged widespread sexual harassment, the NFL did not commission a written report. Instead, he asked investigator, Washington lawyer Beth Wilkinson, to report his findings “orally” rather than in writing.

“No written report. No facts. No finding. No liability. And no real consequences, ”the Washington Post editorial board wrote in a July 3 article. “It turns out the NFL did not request a written report from Ms. Wilkinson. He received his findings orally, supposedly because of the “sensitivity” of the allegations, but which makes it all the easier to cover up what was found. Did Ms. Wilkinson, a lawyer with an exceptional reputation, really think this was a good idea? “

“There is no model for that,” said Evan Krutoy, a New York attorney who was hired by the Mavericks in 2018 to investigate allegations of misconduct by that team. “Some people might not want a written report because they fear criminal exposure and liability. “

It’s also unclear at this point how much evidence Jenner & Block investigators have or will be able to obtain.

Jenner & Block investigators likely hired a forensic expert to “mirror” or copy data from work computers and collect old emails from servers, Krutoy said. Eleven-year-old text messages might be harder to retrieve, he said.

Planning and conducting interviews can take several months. In the case of the Mavericks, Krutoy’s team interviewed 215 witnesses, reviewed 1.6 million documents, and scrutinized the team’s human resources records and documents dating back 20 years during his seven month survey.

“Every employee, even one who is only there for a few months, may have relevant information, may have heard something that bothered them,” Krutoy said. “We are not talking about a tribunal. It might be hearsay, but you might still want to follow up and bring that kind of information to others to question them about.

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