Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman announced Tuesday that he was stepping down following an independent investigation into the team’s handling of a 2010 sexual assault allegation against a former coach.
Bowman, who was general manager for about 12 years, said in a statement that said his “continued participation would be a distraction” for the team.
He stated that he was leaving after the organization released the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Brad Aldrich, former video coach. An assault is alleged to have occurred in May 2010 as the team was in its first Stanley Cup Finals in 18 years.
Bowman said he was made aware of “potential inappropriate behavior” 11 years ago and reported it to John McDonough, the team’s president and CEO at the time. McDonough was fired last year.
” I learned this year that McDonough was accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault. Bowman stated that I trusted my superior to take the appropriate actions. “I regret that he didn’t handle the matter quickly, and I look back now. “
McDonough was not available for comment immediately.
Bowman is being replaced by Kyle Davidson. Davidson was the assistant general manager for hockey administration, NBC Chicago reported ..
Bowman also informed USA Hockey on Tuesday that he would be stepping down as general manager of the 2022 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team. In light of today’s events, I believe it’s in USA Hockey’s best interests for me to step down,” he stated in a USA Hockey statement.
According to the 107-page investigation report from the law firm Jenner & Block, Aldrich was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old player brought up from the minor leagues as a backup during the 2010 playoffs. These prospects are called “Black Aces” because they are available to a team when their roster is exhausted due to injuries or other issues. “
A request for comment from Aldrich was not immediately answered by an attorney. The Jenner & Block investigation began when John Doe, a player who was suing the Blackhawks, made the allegations against Aldrich.
He alleged that Aldrich invited him to his home around May 9, 2010. He said that Aldrich invited him to his home for dinner and then invited him to watch a hockey game. Doe claims that Aldrich changed the television’s channel to pornography several times before telling Doe not to touch him. According to the report, Aldrich tried to kiss the player and punched him in his face.
“John Doe said that Aldrich allegedly punched Aldrich in the face and then he grabbed a souvenir Cubs baseball bat from a window or shelf and told John Doe that he was not going anywhere.” The report claims that Aldrich threatened to make sure that Doe “never plays in the NHL again” and that he would “never walk again.” “
He is said to have had oral sex with the player, and asked him to not talk about it. According to the account of the player detailed in the report. According to the report, Doe shared with him a nonconsensual encounter that occurred around that time. Doe claimed that he felt more drunk than he would from drinking, and suggested that he was drugged.
Aldrich, who was 27 at the time, did not deny that a sexual encounter with the player occurred during the 2010 playoff period, but he contended that it was consensual. According to the report, he stated that he had told Doe and another Black Ace prospect that his gay. He also claimed that he had had what he thought to be flirtatious interactions with Doe.
Aldrich recalls the incident after Doe returned from a bar with an older woman with whom he had had a sexual encounter. According to the report, he said Doe consented and denied ever having threatened the young player.
The unidentified woman spoke with the law firm, and she confirmed that she had met both men. She said that although they had oral sex, the women never witnessed the men have sexual intimacy with one another, according to the report.
She called Aldrich “aggressive” but said that she left after he started to scratch her so hard that she began bleeding. According to the report, she “corroborated some aspects of John Doe and Aldrich’s accounts and differed in other respects.” “
Another Black Ace prospect said that he recalled Aldrich telling him he was gay, but couldn’t recall who was involved in that conversation. Aldrich sent him explicit photos and inappropriate text messages, he claimed.
He denied having ever had a sexual encounter. However, he said that he recalls Aldrich telling prospects that he could “bury us” in Blackhawks and that “you would never play.” It said that six other witnesses claimed they heard rumors about Aldrich threatening players’ careers.
Al MacIsaac, who was the senior director of hockey administration in 2010, was made aware of a possible incident between Doe and Aldrich on May 23, 2010, according to the report, which said he alerted the team’s counselor, who spoke to the young player. According to the report, Doe claimed that Aldrich had threatened his career and pressured him into having sex. It said that the assault was not discovered by the team at the time.
MacIsaac was “removed from his duties after an investigation,” NBC Chicago reported. MacIsaac was most recently the senior vice president of hockey operations.
The allegation was raised at a meeting attended by several Blackhawks executives including McDonough Bowman, Joel Quenneville and Bowman, who were then the team’s head coaches. It said that different accounts of what was discussed and decided on differ. This included whether or not to open an investigation and concerns regarding “team chemistry” during playoffs.
” It is evident that after being informed about Aldrich’s alleged misconduct and sexual harassment with a player, no action has been taken for three weeks,” said the report. McDonough made the decision about how to proceed, according to one witness. Another witness said McDonough told him he would talk to John Doe. McDonough did nothing to address the allegations until June 14, when he reported the information to the Director of Human Resources. “
Aldrich was with the team from June to mid-June. He was then given the opportunity to resign or remain on the team during an investigation. He chose to resign, taking a separation severance and a $15,000 playoff bonus. He was also permitted to take the Stanley Cup-winning team’s trophy on an annual tour of their respective hometowns.
Aldrich pleaded guilty in 2013 to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor in Houghton, Michigan. According to the report, he was sentenced for nine months in prison and five years probation.
The NHL fined the Blackhawks 2 million dollars for their “inadequate internal procedures” and “insufficient and untimely response to the Aldrich allegations.
“The League of American Hockey League officials announced Tuesday that $1 million of the fine money would be used to support local organizations that offer counseling, training, and support for survivors of sexual abuse and other forms. The Blackhawks released a statement Tuesday apologizing for not living up to their standards and values regarding handling these disturbing incidents. “
“What we do off the ice is equally as important as anything we do on it. The Blackhawks’ ownership and leadership team are committed to upholding the highest ethical, professional and athletic standards. The team stated that they will not tolerate any behavior that is contrary to our values, nor will they accept inaction that allows such issues continue unchecked.”