Third-party review clears NHLPA of mishandling Kyle Beach sex abuse allegations

An independent review has cleared National Hockey League Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr of any wrongdoing in the handling of sexual assault allegations at Kyle Beach.

On Friday, the NHLPA released a third-party review prepared by law firm Cozen O’Connor that concludes that the NHLPA’s failure to act on Beach’s reports stems from a lack of communication.

“We cannot identify any individual wrongdoing or institutional failure of policy or procedure on the part of Fehr, NHLPA staff, or the (NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program) regarding the handling of reports of Beach,” said the report, which was released to the public after Friday afternoon.

“Beach’s warnings regarding (Brad) Aldrich were disregarded due to miscommunication and misunderstanding, rather than individual or systemic failure.”

READ MORE: NHLPA to launch independent review into Kyle Beach assault allegations

Beach, a former Chicago Blackhawks farm system player, said he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich, the team’s video coach from 2008 to 2010, during the 2010 Stanley Cup run in Chicago.

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In October, an initial report commissioned by the Blackhawks and prepared by the American law firm Jenner & Block, indicated that the meeting between Beach, then a 20-year-old minor league player, and Aldrich, then 27, was was produced on May 8 or 9, 2010.

Beach told investigators that Aldrich, a video trainer at the time, threatened him with a souvenir baseball bat before forcibly performing oral sex and masturbating on the player’s back, allegations he has also detailed in his trial.

The report, which came in response to lawsuits filed by Beach and a former high school student Aldrich was convicted of assault in Michigan after leaving Chicago, also found that Fehr had been contacted twice about related allegations. to Adrian.

READ MORE: Chicago Blackhawks, Kyle Beach reach settlement in sexual assault lawsuit

Player’s agent Ross Gurney told Cozen O’Connor investigators that he contacted Fehr in late 2010 after learning from Beach that Aldrich had been hired by USA Hockey as part of a tournament held late December or early January 2011.

In the report, Gurney recalled calling Aldrich a “pedophile” or a “sex predator” in a phone call to Fehr, but did not provide the NHLPA boss with any details about what allegedly happened between Beach and Aldrich.

Fehr denied having any recollection of the call.

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“A comprehensive review of all of Fehr’s emails over the same period revealed no reference to his call with Gurney, let alone any discussion of the alleged incident between Beach and Aldrich, a significant omission. given Fehr’s documented practice of immediately following up with others on much less important matters,” the report said.

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Calls mount for accountability in covering up Kyle Beach NHL allegations

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The report also cleared Dr. Brian Shaw, a psychologist and co-administrator of the NHL/NHLPA’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, of wrongdoing despite Aldrich’s allegations by Beach and another player.

“Gurney and Beach walked away from their respective conversations thinking that someone, maybe Fehr or someone else from the NHLPA, or Dr. Shaw from the SABH program, had agreed to take responsibility for contacting USA Hockey,” indicates the report.

“Dr. Shaw believed that others, either the union or Beach’s agent, would respond to Beach’s concerns about USA Hockey and that he was obligated to keep what Beach told him confidential.

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The company acknowledged the difficulty of reconstructing events from 11 years ago and said the conclusions were based on “patently imperfect and incomplete recollections of a few individuals, not corroborated by documentary evidence”.

The company said it provided the union’s general counsel with a series of recommendations for additional measures that could be put in place to better handle similar situations in the future. The NHLPA said its board of directors voted to keep those recommendations on trust for now “because they require further development by staff and evaluation by the board.”

The Board of Directors, at this stage, keeps the recommendations confidential.

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Investigation finds Blackhawks covered up Kyle Beach’s 2010 sexual assault accusation against video coach

Investigation finds Blackhawks covered up Kyle Beach’s 2010 sexual assault accusation against coach Video – October 28, 2021

The findings of the Blackhawks investigation rocked the team and led to sweeping changes in the front office and ripple effects across the NHL. Longtime Chicago general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville, who was with Florida, quit after it was determined they had been made aware of the allegations and failed to act in a manner appropriate. Aldrich told investigators the encounter was consensual.

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The Blackhawks and Beach settled their lawsuit in December after meeting with a mediator. Terms of the settlement have not been released.

–With files from The Associated Press

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Joseph K. Bennett