Bettman shows ‘sincere regret’ after Chicago largely ignored ex-player’s sex assault claims

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman talked to Kyle Beach on Saturday about what the league can do to better protect its players after the 2008 first-round pick said he was sexually assaulted by an assistant coach two years later and his allegations were largely ignored by Chicago.

Susan Loggans, an attorney representing Beach in a lawsuit against the team, said Bettman expressed his “sincere regret” during a 20-minute video call over what Beach had experienced. He also offered the NHL’s help with psychological services and anything else that the league had available.

“There was discussion about what could be done in the future to assure this kind of thing did not occur again,” Loggans said in an email to The Associated Press.

Beach, who hails from Kelowna, B.C., also is slated to meet with Donald Fehr, the leader of the NHL players’ association, on Saturday in a separate video conference call.

Messages were left by the the AP seeking comment from the NHL and NHLPA.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly. Beach spoke with TSN on Wednesday and posted a statement on Twitter on Thursday expressing gratitude for the support he had received in the past few days.

WATCH | Kyle Beach says he hopes his story will spark change:

Kyle Beach ‘overwhelmed’ by support after sharing sexual assault story

2 days ago

Past and present NHLers are showing support for former Chicago player Kyle Beach, who revealed he was the ‘John Doe’ in the team’s 2010 sexual assault investigation, and some are calling on the league to prove it’s serious about keeping players safe. 1:58

The NHL fined Chicago $2 million US for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response” to the 31-year-old Beach’s allegations that he was sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010.

According to a report by an outside law firm, commissioned by the team in response to lawsuits by Beach and a former high school student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan, senior leaders with Chicago discussed Beach’s accusations at a meeting on May 23, 2010, right after the team advanced to the Stanley Cup. Aldrich told investigators the encounter was consensual.

Accounts of what was said during the meeting vary, but the report found there was no evidence that anything was done about the accusations before then-team president John McDonough contacted the team’s director of human resources on June 14 — a delay that violated the organization’s sexual harassment policy.

During those three weeks, Aldrich continued to work for and travel with the team. Former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, who led the investigation, said Aldrich also “made an unwanted sexual advance” toward a 22-year-old Chicago intern.

According to the club’s report, Fehr was contacted twice about allegations connected to Aldrich, including by a Beach confidant. Fehr told investigators he couldn’t recall either conversation but did not deny they had occurred.

Fehr said Wednesday night in a statement that there was “no doubt” that the system had failed Beach and “we are part of that system.”

WATCH | Sheldon Kennedy calls on league to make systemic changes:

Sheldon Kennedy calls on NHL leadership to make systemic changes

Sheldon Kennedy, the former NHL player, sexual abuse survivor and advocate for those who have been sexually abused, joined CBC Morning Live host Heather Hiscox to discuss changes that need to be made in the wake of the 2010 sexual abuse allegations involving Chicago’s NHL team. 13:06

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