“While there was a lack of recollection as to whether anyone else present in the meeting besides Mr. McDonough needed to or would take any additional steps, nothing was done by the other senior leaders to address the situation. As a result, the Blackhawks’ own sexual harassment policy which required investigation of all reports of sexual harassment to be conducted promptly and thoroughly was violated.”
Schar said Aldrich was allowed between May 23 and June 14, 2010, to travel with the team and participate in celebratory events. On June 14, when given the option of facing an investigation or resigning, Schar said, Aldrich chose to resign.
Schar said Aldrich, with an attorney, participated in the investigation.
Bowman issued a statement through the team noting that he was in his first year as general manager and that he “promptly” reported the matter to McDonough.
“I relied on the direction of my superior that he would take appropriate action,” Bowman said in the statement. “Looking back, now knowing he did not handle the matter promptly, I regret assuming he would do so.”
Schar said the four-month investigation included interviews with 139 people, including 21 current Hawks players and 14 members of the 2009-10 team. The firm also interviewed both John Doe and Aldrich, with attorneys present, and Schar said they offered different views of the 2010 encounter.
He said the Hawks placed “no limits” on cooperation with the investigation.
According to John Doe’s lawsuit, Aldrich threatened and forcibly touched the player during a dinner and invitation to go over game video at Aldrich’s apartment around May 2010. Then-skills coach Paul Vincent said he informed team executives about the alleged incident as well as another misconduct complaint from another Hawk, but the team opted not to report Aldrich to Chicago police.
The lawsuit states the plaintiff began counseling sessions with mental skills coach James Gary, but Gary “convinced plaintiff that the sexual assault was his fault, that he was culpable for what happened, made mistakes during his encounter with the perpetrator and permitted the sexual assault to occur.” Gary’s attorney, Eric Lifvendahl of L&G Law Group, disputed that account.
The Hawks issued a statement May 12 saying, “based on our investigation, we believe the allegations against the organization lack merit and we are confident the team will be absolved of any wrongdoing.”
However, the Hawks announced June 28 that they had hired Jenner & Block to investigate the allegations. On Aug. 2, the team pledged to share the review’s conclusions publicly and “implement changes to address the findings and any shortcomings of our organization.”
Vincent and Brent Sopel, another player on the 2010 championship team, said they had refused to cooperate with the review until the Hawks agreed to make the findings public.©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.