Chicago Blackhawks apologize for dismissing Kyle Beach's sexual assault allegations

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  • Kyle Beach
    Canadian ice hockey player

The Chicago Blackhawks are apologizing to Kyle Beach for dismissing his allegations more than a decade ago that a coach had sexually assaulted him.

"We apologize to Kyle Beach for previously stating his allegations ‘lacked merit.’ It is clear now that our organization did not do the right thing," said a statement from the NHL team.

The statement said, when the Wirtz family, which owns the team, was approached about a possible lawsuit last year, they "relied on information provided by then-counsel and then-human resources that this matter was appropriately looked into and resolved in 2010 based on their review."

But when the lawsuit was filed in May "and additional allegations and information were made public through media reports," the team's owners commissioned an independent report, the results of which were made public last week.

Beach then decided to speak publicly about his experience and identify himself as the "John Doe" in the civil suit, igniting a scandal within the NHL.

Last week, Stan Bowman resigned as general manager of the Blackhawks. Joel Quenneville, who at the time of the allegations was coach of the Blackhawks, resigned from his position as coach of the Florida Panthers.

The NHL fined the club $2 million, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday apologized to Beach. "We could not be more sorry for the trauma that Kyle has had to endure and our goal is to do what is necessary to continue to move forward," he said.

Beach has alleged that in May 2010, while a prospect for the Blackhawks, video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him under the threat of violence. Beach said he reported the assault to the team that month, but that they delayed action because the team qualified for, and eventually won, the Stanley Cup that year.

Aldrich resigned from his position in June 2010 in order to avoid an internal investigation into his alleged conduct, according to an outside investigation.

The civil lawsuit, filed in a Chicago court, alleged "negligence and willful and wanton conduct related to alleged actions or failure to act by the Blackhawks" after they learned of Beach's allegations.

Aldrich has not responded to NBC News' request for comment. He has previously said the encounter with Beach was consensual and denied the allegations.

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