Former Blackhawks Coach Convicted Of A Sex Crime Had Been Investigated For Other Allegations

Hockey players
Police reports obtained by WBEZ show a former Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach later convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a Michigan youth was investigated for other incidents of possible unwanted sexual contact. Pixabay
Hockey players
Police reports obtained by WBEZ show a former Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach later convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a Michigan youth was investigated for other incidents of possible unwanted sexual contact. Pixabay

Former Blackhawks Coach Convicted Of A Sex Crime Had Been Investigated For Other Allegations

Editor’s note: This story contains a graphic description of criminal sexual conduct toward a minor.

Police investigative reports obtained by WBEZ show a former Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach later convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a Michigan youth was investigated for other possible unwanted sexual contact with minors and young adult men, but the team failed to aid that probe.

The unreported law enforcement documents obtained through an open-records request also reveal new details about the sexual conduct case that landed Bradley Aldrich on a sex-offender registry and point to previously unknown past alleged misconduct by Aldrich at Miami University of Ohio.

That’s where he was director of hockey operations after leaving the Blackhawks. But he resigned in 2012 “under suspicion of unwanted touching of a male adult,” the university’s attorney told police. The university told WBEZ Monday that it has opened an internal investigation into Aldrich’s brief stint there nine years ago.

And in his first public comments about Aldrich, a former player who alleged in a lawsuit that the ex-coach sexually assaulted him in 2010 and the Blackhawks covered it up, told WBEZ Monday the trauma caused mental health issues.

It “took me out of the high point of my game,” he said.

The rapidly evolving developments have thrust Chicago’s National Hockey League franchise into a potentially damning spotlight, driven by lawsuits from that player and the sexual misconduct victim who both contend the team swept aside claims against Aldrich. Those litigants are referred to only in court papers as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2.

The Blackhawks didn’t respond to WBEZ about the slew of developments this week.

A lawyer representing Aldrich ignored a list of questions from the news organization, saying only, “Record of Mr. Aldrich’s conviction [is] a matter of public record. Any publication of untrue material by WBEZ will be treated as libelous.”

Allegations of “inappropriate” and “uncomfortable” sexual contact

The police report obtained by WBEZ from the Houghton, Mich., Police Department outlines repeated allegations of a sexual nature against Aldrich during his time as an assistant high school hockey coach there after departing both the Blackhawks and Miami University.

The heavily redacted report reveals that police in the remote city about 420 miles due north of Chicago investigated at least two previously unreported instances of alleged “inappropriate” and “uncomfortable” sexual contact by Aldrich prior to the fall 2013 criminal investigation.

The report discloses how Houghton police contacted the Blackhawks about Aldrich’s time with the team, but the franchise’s front office would only confirm the former coach was once an employee.

The team’s human resources director “requested a search warrant or subpoena to give out any information regarding Brad Aldrich leaving” the team, the report said.

Susan Loggans, the Chicago attorney representing the ex-high school player Aldrich attacked and the ex-Blackhawk, described that response to police as “exactly the way they reacted to me when I called them about this case to begin with. They said they are not cooperating at all [with the lawsuits]. ‘It didn’t happen. It’s not true.’ ”

In disturbing and explicit detail, the police report outlines ways in which Aldrich would allegedly host teens at his home, where he allowed them to drink. He also allegedly bought alcohol for minors, allowed use of his vehicle and, in the case of the boy he was convicted of attacking, offered a promotion on the school hockey team.

But that boy wasn’t the only young person with accusations involving Aldrich that police documented.

One case involved a 16-year-old boy who told police that Aldrich picked him up at a county fair. The police report indicates that minor told investigators he and Aldrich went back to his apartment and engaged in “sexual relations” that left him feeling “uncomfortable with the situation.” No charges resulted from that case.

Another instance cited in the report related to a troubled youth who at one point was housed in a juvenile detention facility. The young man, whose age isn’t identified, told police he engaged in sex with Aldrich at his home and along the waterfront of a neighboring town, where Aldrich resides, according to the police report. No charges arose from that case.

A third case mentioned in the police report involved an alleged incident at Aldrich’s house. A male, whose name is redacted, told police that he had known Aldrich since he was a freshman, when Aldrich was coaching. The male told police that at the gathering, Aldrich allegedly put his hand in the shorts of a girl beside him. The report said the male, whose age wasn’t identified, “stated that he became very upset by this and lost respect for Brad Aldrich.”

Police talked with the girl’s mother, who said that her daughter said Aldrich “had touched her inappropriately,” but that her daughter denied any improper sexual relations with Aldrich. No charges came from the incident. Police did not appear to speak directly with the girl, according to the report.

The Houghton Police Department did not comment for this story, including why no charges were brought in any of these instances.

“The police report indicates an ongoing course of conduct which demonstrates the sexual predator nature of Mr. Aldrich,” said Loggans, the attorney for the ex-Blackhawks player and former high school student, who are suing the Blackhawks. Aldrich pleaded guilty in 2013 to criminal sexual conduct with that former student.

Loggans said if the Blackhawks had taken action against Aldrich at the time her first client reported him, they could have prevented other alleged incidents from occurring.

“It validates what happened to John Doe 1,” Loggans said of the police report. “Obviously, it’s horribly sad, and it makes you even angry at the Blackhawks that they didn’t do something about this to stop this from happening again. But you feel like it’s important the public know the extent of this man’s conduct because this may prevent this from happening to other people.”

Ex-Blackhawks player: “It makes me sick”

The former hockey player Loggans is representing contends in a lawsuit he filed in May against the Blackhawks that Aldrich, a video coach with the team, “turned on porn and began to masturbate in front of him” at some point around May 2010. That was one month before the team’s decisive Game 6 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers that secured the team’s first NHL title in nearly a half century.

The lawsuit also described “inappropriate text messages” from the coach to the player and threats to “physically, financially and emotionally” harm the player if he “did not engage in sexual activity” with the coach.

The ex-Blackhawk player also contends that when he disclosed the misconduct to a team mental-skills coach, that coach turned the tables on the player and said “the sexual assault was his fault, that he was culpable for what happened, made mistakes during his encounter with the perpetrator and permitted the sexual assault to occur.”

The player’s lawsuit stated that he “suppressed” memories of the alleged 2010 misconduct by Aldrich until July 2019, when he learned Aldrich had been arrested and sentenced for the 2013 conviction of sexual conduct against a high school hockey player in Houghton, Mich.

The identity of the ex-Blackhawks player has not been made public, and Loggans did not reveal his name when WBEZ posed questions to him through her on Monday.

In his first public comments since the lawsuit was filed, the player said in an email that the new details in the police report are “heartbreaking” and make him “sick.” He gave a blistering commentary on his former team’s handling of Aldrich.

“These teams employ sport psychologists, nutritionist[s] and don’t hold back on any expense to keep the players healthy. This did not happen to me,” he said.

“The Blackhawks are an organization very worried about its reputation, perception and history,” the player continued. “They have a proven track record of cover-ups, including this abuse.”

The team told WBEZ earlier this month that it takes the player’s allegations “very seriously” but believe his claims “lack merit, and we are confident the team will be absolved of any wrongdoing.” The Blackhawks have moved to have both of Loggans’ cases tossed from Cook County Circuit Court.

“Shhh. Be quiet.”

Meanwhile, the Michigan police report obtained by WBEZ has new details about the nature of the criminal sexual conduct Aldrich was convicted of committing against John Doe 2. Aldrich was originally charged with a felony but ultimately pleaded to a misdemeanor. He still had to register with the state’s sex offender registry.

The report indicated the high school hockey player told police he had had four or five beers and a mixed drink at an end-of-season party Aldrich attended in a private residence.

The player said he fell asleep in an upstairs bedroom and later “felt somebody crawling into bed with him” and that “at first, he did not know who it was but later realized it was Brad Aldrich and Brad Aldrich was telling him ‘shhh. Be quiet,’” the report said.

The report said the boy told police Aldrich reached inside the player’s pants and began fondling him.

The boy told police that “he let Brad Aldrich know that he did not want to do that by pushing his hand away but Brad Aldrich continued,” the report said.

The boy said the former coach then attempted oral sex on him, tried to guide the player’s hand onto his penis and attempted to remove the boy’s pants, the report said.

The boy told police “that he pushed and kicked out Brad Aldrich at which point Brad Aldrich said ‘fine then’ and left the room” but “returned to the room sometime around day break” and attempted to fondle the boy again, the report said.

The boy again blocked Aldrich’s attack, the report said, and the former coach asked the player to keep what happened a secret because the coach could “get into trouble.”

The report said the boy told police that Aldrich repeatedly texted him after the encounter and said he wanted to meet the player again in person. That didn’t happen until another day or two later at a team dinner in a local restaurant.

The report said the boy told investigators that at the dinner, “Brad Aldrich pulled him to the side and apologized for what he had done” and “told him that he had felt sick and that he [had] not been able to eat since the incident.

“Brad Aldrich advised him not to tell anybody and expressed that he [Brad Aldrich] could be arrested if he were to tell anybody,” the report said, quoting the teen.

Aldrich purchased alcohol for the player on multiple occasions after the sexual encounter and “told him shortly after the incident that next year he … would be the starting goalie,” the report said.

The police officer who interviewed the player asked him how it felt for Aldrich to have repeatedly attempted unwanted sexual advances against him.

The boy responded that the encounters “made him upset” and “stated that he looked up to Brad Aldrich as a coach and did not think Brad Aldrich would do this,” the report said. The teen “stated that he was upset that this happened to him but realizes that this could happen to anybody and was glad that everybody didn’t have to go through what he had to go through.”

The report said the player told police at the time of the interview in 2013 that he continued to experience serious emotional and physical repercussions afterward, struggling with his grades and “medicating himself with Benadryl to sleep and drinking Monsters to stay awake during the day.”

After the teen was interviewed, police contacted Aldrich, who agreed to speak with investigators. That began with an acknowledgment from Aldrich that he engaged in sexual acts with the boy.

“Brad Aldrich stated that once he began performing oral sex on” the boy, “he knew that he had gone too far,” the police report said, paraphrasing the former coach.

“Brad Aldrich stated during the interview, more than one time, that he knew that he was wrong for what he did” because he was the boy’s coach, the report said.

An internal investigation is opened

The recent lawsuits against the Blackhawks have prompted a previous employer of Aldrich’s to open an internal investigation into his tenure.

According to the police report obtained by WBEZ, Miami University told Houghton police in 2013 that Aldrich resigned from his job coaching “under suspicion of unwanted touching of a male adult.”

It’s unclear what — if anything — Miami University did to investigate that allegation at the time.

But now, Miami University said it has engaged a law firm to look into Aldrich’s tenure at the college between July and November 2012.

“Miami University is aware of allegations of improper conduct by former employee Bradley Aldrich,” university spokeswoman Jessica Rivinius told WBEZ.

“The university has hired the national law firm of Barnes & Thornburg LLP to conduct an independent and thorough review of Mr. Aldrich’s employment at Miami,” she said.

Aldrich also worked for the University of Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena before Miami. When Houghton police contacted Notre Dame to ask about why he left, the university would only confirm he had been employed but requested a subpoena for more information. A spokesman for the university told WBEZ this week that it found no formal record of complaints against Aldrich.

“No previous employers, including the Blackhawks, notified Notre Dame of any issues or complaints about Aldrich,” a University of Notre Dame spokesman said in a written statement to WBEZ.

In his emailed response to WBEZ, the former player at the center of the legal confrontation with the Blackhawks wrote both about how he tries to separate his teammates’ glorious win in 2010 from his alleged debilitating assault and what the Blackhawks could have done to prevent the alleged attacks that followed.

“You can’t take the cup away — the players on the ice earned it. As a hockey player, we dream from receiving our first stick to win a Stanley Cup,” he wrote.

But he says the scandal puts on display grossly misplaced priorities within the multibillion-dollar NHL, and that’s something the Blackhawks need to be forced to confront.

“Success and wins are valued more than people,” he said, “and they need to deal with the serious issues.”

Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney cover state politics for WBEZ. Follow them @tonyjarnold and @davemckinney.