Warning: This article contains references to allegations of sexual assault.
According to Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune, a Chicago-based law firm named Romanucci & Blandin has filed a negligence lawsuit on behalf of their client — who is identified as “John Doe” in the suit. The suit alleges that Brad Aldrich “groomed, harassed, threatened and assaulted” John Doe during the 2009-10 season. The Blackhawks are named as the sole defendant and the suit calls for a jury trial.
The lawsuit alleges 15 counts of negligence by the Blackhawks, according to documents obtained by The Athletic's Scott Powers.
John Doe's lawsuit against the Blackhawks includes 15 counts of negligence pic.twitter.com/5ahSWdVfMs
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) November 6, 2023
“This is a continuation of the institutional and cultural abuses that we are seeing coming from our sports teams, whether they are local teams or from ones that are around the country,” Antonio Romanucci, a founding partner of the law firm, said in an interview with the Tribune.
The attorneys confirmed to the Tribune that John Doe is the same individual that is identified as “Black Ace 1” in the Jenner & Brock Report on the Kyle Beach case. Like Beach, John Doe was told by Aldrich that he could influence the player's standing with Blackhawks coaches. The suit alleges that Aldrich hosted John Doe and other Black Aces at his home under the guise of discussing player strategies, only to ultimately attempt to make them watch pornographic videos with him.
According to the suit, John Doe is accusing Aldrich of the following acts:
Aldrich sneaked into the bedroom of John Doe while he was having sex with a woman, and tried to join the encounter. He made his presence known by playing with John Doe’s feet in the dark.
Aldrich approached John Doe from behind, hugged him from behind and grounded his penis against John Doe’s back and buttocks overtop his clothes.
Aldrich sent harassing text messages to John Doe.
Aldrich once texted John Doe that he could “give (oral sex) better than any women could.” (This was relayed in the Jenner & Brock report).
During the 2010 Western Conference Final, Aldrich texted John Doe a picture of his penis. The secretary of Blackhawks president John McDonough was allegedly seated beside Doe when he received the text message. Doe showed the secretary the image. The secretary is referred to as “Employee A” in the Jenner & Brock report, according to Doe’s legal representation.
McDonough was a key figure in the Beach investigation. He did not report the allegations against Aldrich to human resources until June 14, 2010 — a few days after the team won the Stanley Cup. Two days later, Aldrich met with the team's human resources department and was given the option to undergo an investigation or resign. He opted for the latter, receiving a severance and playoff bonus and continued to be paid a salary for months afterward, according to the Jenner & Brock report.
“He was permitted to host the Stanley Cup for a day in his hometown, his name was engraved on the Stanley Cup, he received a championship ring, and he attended a Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony at the United Center,” the Jenner & Brock report alleged.
After leaving the Blackhawks, Aldrich went on to sexually assault a teenager in 2013.
A reminder of the human cost to the way the organization mishandled the situation: three years later after these allegations surfaced and CHI let him resign, Brad Aldrich would plead guilty to criminal sexual conduct involving a teenaged high school hockey player he coached https://t.co/mhKxo8CXDr
— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) November 5, 2023
In the Jenner & Brock report, Black Ace 1 — a.k.a. John Doe — denied ever having a sexual encounter with Aldrich.
“Many people don’t understand or realize that they’ve been sexually assaulted until they understand what the definition is,” Romanucci said. “And many of the activities that took place, that we’ve outlined in our complaint, are indeed sexual assaults.”
The fallout of the Beach situation saw longtime coach Joel Quenneville and GM Stan Bowman lose their jobs and the Blackhawks were fined $2 million — a punishment many considered to be a slap on the wrist. The Blackhawks got to keep all draft capital and happened to win the draft lottery last June, which landed them Connor Bedard.
Beach reached a settlement with the Blackhawks in December 2021.