WARNING: This story contains subject matter that may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is breaking his silence on alleged sexual abuse allegations against a former Chicago Blackhawks coach.
Cheveldayoff worked as an assistant general manager with the Blackhawks in 2010 when Brad Aldrich was Chicago’s video coach. Aldrich is now accused of sexually assaulting two players, according to a recent lawsuit filed against the team.
In a statement released Thursday, Cheveldayoff said he wasn’t aware of the allegations at the time.
“I had no knowledge of any allegations involving Mr. Aldrich until asked if I was aware of anything just prior to the conclusion of his employment with the Chicago Blackhawks.”
“As this is a legal matter before the courts, I will not be making any further comment; however, to the extent I am contacted by investigators in this matter, I will cooperate to the best of my ability and knowledge,” the statement also reads.
A former federal prosecutor has been hired by the Blackhawks to conduct what the team says is an independent investigative review of the allegations in a pair of lawsuits filed against the franchise.
In one of the lawsuits, filed on May 7 in Cook County Circuit Court, a former player says Aldrich assaulted him, and that the team did nothing after he informed an employee. The suit also alleges that Aldrich assaulted another unidentified Blackhawks player. The former player who sued and is seeking more than $150,000 in damages is referred to in the document as “John Doe.”
The eight-page lawsuit says Aldrich “turned on porn and began to masturbate in front of” the player without his consent. It says Aldrich also threatened to “physically, financially and emotionally” hurt the player if he “did not engage in sexual activity” with him.
An attorney for Aldrich has previously told Chicago public radio station WBEZ that his client denies the allegations in the lawsuit. In a May statement to the radio station, the Blackhawks said the allegations directed at the team were groundless.
After leaving the Blackhawks, Aldrich was convicted in 2013 in Michigan of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a high school student and is now on that state’s registry of sex offenders.
The former student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting filed a separate lawsuit against the Blackhawks on May 26, saying the team provided positive references to future employers of Aldrich despite allegations from at least one player and took no action to report the matter.
That suit says the student was a hockey player at Houghton High School near Hancock in 2013 when Aldrich sexually assaulted him at an end-of-season gathering.
Current Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, who served in the same role in 2010, pledged Thursday to cooperate with the investigation.
–With files from The Associated Press