Kyle Beach stepped forward as the ‘John Doe’ at the centre of the Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal, saying that the NHL “let him down.”
Beach, who was the 11th overall pick for the Blackhawks in 2008, identified himself on TSN’s Sportscentre on Wednesday and gave an emotional interview.
“I am a survivor,” Beach said.
“I buried this for ten years, eleven years, and it’s destroyed me from the inside out and I want everybody to know, in the sports world and in the world, that you’re not alone.”
The Blackhawks released on Tuesday the findings of a damning investigation into the internal handlings of sexual assault allegations against former video coach Bradley Aldrich that came to light earlier this year when the player — originally identified only as John Doe — brought a lawsuit against the club.
Beach never played in a regular season or playoff game through his time with the Blackhawks.
During the interview Wednesday evening, Beach revealed some of the feelings he’d had this week as the report rocked the sports world.
“Yesterday was a day of many emotions,” said Beach. “I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more.”
The report named other NHL executives and coaches who are no longer with the Blackhawks — including Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff — for having known about the alleged sex assault and doing next to nothing about it. In addition, the Blackhawks allowed Aldrich to “participate in celebrations in the presence of John Doe.”
The league said it would talk to Quenneville and Cheveldayoff at a later date. Both appear to have been caught in a lie, initially saying they knew nothing of the allegations from 2010 until the lawsuit was filed in June. But the report by an outside law firm indicates they were in the room with Blackhawks executives discussing next moves, with Quenneville worried that firing Aldrich in the middle of the playoffs would be too much of a distraction in what became a successful Stanley Cup run.
Beach became emotional when discussing how he told his family about what happened.
“My mom cried for days,” he said. “She felt responsible.”
“I did what I thought I had to do to survive, to continue chasing my dream and that was to not think about it, not talk about it, to ignore it and that’s all I could do,” added Beach.
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Beach also recalled watching Aldrich celebrate with the team in 2010 when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
“It made me feel like nothing,” he said. “It made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong.”
This week, the organization parted ways with GM Stan Bowman — the architect behind Chicago’s three Stanley Cups in the 2010s — over his mishandling of sexual assault allegations.
“Stan Bowman has stepped aside,” said Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz. “We and he ultimately accept that in his first year as general manager, he made a mistake alongside our other senior executives at the time and did not take adequate action in 2010.”
The league said it fined the Blackhawks $2 million (U.S.) with half the money “dedicated to fund local organizations in and around the Chicago community that provide counselling and training for, and support and assistance to, survivors of sexual and other forms of abuse.”
Beach was asked if he had a message for the National Hockey League.
“They let me down and they’ve let others down as well,” he said. “They continue to try and protect their name over the health and the well-being of the people that put their lives on the line every day to make the NHL what it is.
“I hope, through and through, that Gary Bettman takes this seriously.”
In a statement posted to social media after Beach’s interview aired, the Blackhawks said “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,” said the statement.
“It was inexcusable for the then-executives of the Blackhawks organization to delay taking action regarding the reported sexual misconduct.”
With files from Kevin McGran
Kieran Leavitt is an Edmonton-based political reporter for the Toronto Star. Follow him on Twitter: @kieranleavitt
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