Blackhawks investigation: Law firm hired to investigate sexual assault allegations

Katie R. Ochoa

The Blackhawks have initiated an investigation into the sexual-assault allegations from former video clip coach Bradley Aldrich and into the inner handling of individuals allegations.

Following months of silence, the staff — by way of an interior memo from CEO Danny Wirtz obtained by the Sun-Instances — announced Monday it had employed the regulation agency Jenner & Block to lead an ‘‘independent review’’ of the allegations. Reid Schar, a previous assistant U.S. attorney and now the co-chair of Jenner & Block’s litigation office, will lead the investigation. He prosecuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich through his 12 several years in the U.S. attorney’s business.

‘‘We want to reiterate to you that we acquire the allegations explained in these lawsuits extremely severely,’’ Wirtz mentioned in the memo. ‘‘They in no way reflect this organization’s society or values.

‘‘Mr. Schar and his firm have major knowledge conducting unbiased investigative critiques, have no previous ties to the Blackhawks group, and have been directed to abide by the info where ever they lead.’’

The Hawks are facing a lawsuit from a former player — discovered less than the pseudonym ‘‘John Doe’’ — who promises he and one more participant were being sexually assaulted by Aldrich in May 2010, a thirty day period in advance of the staff received the Stanley Cup.

Aldrich ‘‘sent . . . inappropriate textual content messages,’’ ‘‘turned on porn and started to masturbate in entrance of [Doe] . . . devoid of his consent’’ and ‘‘threatened to injure [Doe] . . . physically, financially and emotionally if [Doe] . . . did not have interaction in sexual action,’’ according to the lawsuit submitted May well 7.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman discussed the allegations for the very first time Monday in advance of Sport 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, declaring the league will wait around for the benefits of the investigation just before figuring out up coming measures.

‘‘We’ll await the final results of the investigation and then determine what, if something, requires to be accomplished from our standpoint,’’ Bettman reported. ‘‘All alternatives are readily available if there’s a little something that warrants punishment. . . . What we know is primarily based on what is community. That’s why we’re likely to be interested to see what the investigation reveals and does not expose.’’

Bettman claimed he identified the allegations ‘‘concerning’’ but repeatedly emphasized a affected individual approach, indicating it could choose ‘‘a minor bit of time to piece factors with each other.’’

‘‘Everybody is jumping much too much, also fast,’’ he said. ‘‘This is heading to be managed properly and skillfully and done proper.’’

3 players from the 2010 group — like defensemen Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton — arrived forth past week, indicating Aldrich’s alleged assaults had been broadly identified among the staff.

Previous expertise coach Paul Vincent instructed TSN that he informed then-president John McDonough, standard manager Stan Bowman, govt Al MacIsaac and expertise coach James Gary about Aldrich’s alleged assault at a assembly in 2010, but that the team rejected his request to report the incident to the law enforcement. Previous assistant mentor John Torchetti lately verified Vincent’s account to TSN.

Immediately after his tenure with the Hawks, Aldrich sexually assaulted a 16-year-old Michigan boy though volunteering for a superior school team in 2013. That victim has submitted a independent lawsuit towards the Hawks, proclaiming they furnished ‘‘positive references to future employers for Bradley Aldrich even with owning knowledge of his sexual assaults.’’

In the memo Monday, Wirtz explained the Hawks will not remark additional on the allegations — ‘‘out of respect for the ongoing lawful proceedings and the independent review’’ — until eventually equally procedures have ended.

The Hawks previously experienced denied all wrongdoing in a statement shortly after the lawsuit was filed. They have moved to dismiss the previous player’s lawsuit, arguing in court docket documents that the statute of limits has expired.

Jenner & Block, which is headquartered in Chicago and statements to make use of additional than 500 lawyers globally, is recognized for its successful antitrust lawsuit in opposition to AT&T in 1985 and its investigation into Lehman Brothers’ personal bankruptcy in 2009.

The company also is representing United states Gymnastics in its individual bankruptcy proceedings and has been criticized intensely in the latest several years for amassing higher costs — almost $5.8 million and counting, according to a Bloomberg report very last month — when the several victims suing the business for sexual assault have still to acquire cash.

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