Chicago Blackhawks, Kyle Beach reach settlement on lawsuit

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have settled a lawsuit by a former player who said he was sexually assaulted by an assistant coach during the team's 2010 Stanley Cup title run.

After representatives for the Blackhawks and former first-round pick Kyle Beach met Wednesday with a mediator for the first time, they announced that the session had resulted in a confidential settlement.

"The Blackhawks hope that this resolution will bring some measure of peace and closure for Mr. Beach," the team said in a statement attributed to owner Rocky Wirtz, son and team chairman Danny Wirtz, and Susan Loggans, Beach's attorney.

"As for the Blackhawks organization, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that, going forward, this team will be a beacon for professionalism, respect and integrity in our community. We remain grateful for the trust and support of the Blackhawks community, and we promise to continue working every day to earn and maintain that trust."

Loggans is also part of a second lawsuit filed in May by a former high school student whom the assistant coach, Brad Aldrich, was convicted of assaulting in Michigan. There was no word in the joint statement about that suit, but Loggans previously told ESPN that if mediation on Beach's case was successful she expected to meet again with the Blackhawks' ownership group in late December to discuss a settlement for the former high school student's claims.

The Blackhawks said as late as mid-May that Beach's allegations lacked merit. But an independent review, commissioned by the team and released in October, showed the organization badly mishandled Beach's allegations that he was assaulted by Aldrich during the team's 2010 Stanley Cup run. Aldrich told investigators the encounter was consensual.

The fallout included top executives losing their jobs in Chicago and stretched to other teams, including Florida, where veteran coach Joel Quenneville -- the coach of the Blackhawks at the time -- resigned. The NHL fined Chicago $2 million.

Loggans and attorneys for the Blackhawks held settlement talks in early November, meeting for about an hour. She said after those discussions that "each side had different viewpoints."

The investigation commissioned by the team found no evidence that Rocky or Danny Wirtz were aware of the allegations before Beach's lawsuit was brought to their attention ahead of its filing. Danny Wirtz in October said he had instructed team attorneys to seek "a fair resolution consistent with the totality of the circumstances."

Wednesday was the first time that Beach had an opportunity to speak directly with the Wirtz family since filing his lawsuit.

Beach was selected 11th overall in the 2008 NHL draft by the Blackhawks and was one of the team's black aces -- a player who practices with the team and is available to fill a roster spot if needed -- during their Stanley Cup-winning playoff run in 2010. During that time, in May 2010, Beach says he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich, who was at the time the team's 27-year-old video coach. Aldrich acknowledged they had a sexual encounter but claimed it was consensual.

According to an investigation conducted by the Jenner & Block law firm earlier this year, several of the organization's leaders were made aware of Beach's claims in a postgame meeting roughly two weeks after the incident. Aldrich remained with the team through the rest of the playoffs and was then given an option to resign or take part in an investigation into his conduct. He resigned.

Beach played for the franchise's minor league team for five years before continuing his hockey career in Europe. His career went into a "downward spiral" that ended in an "emotional breakdown," according to a psychologist who evaluated Beach as part of his lawsuit. He said in the suit that he suffered from anxiety, depression and other problems that led to a divorce.

The Blackhawks didn't share information about Beach's allegations with law enforcement or anyone else outside the organization until this year. Aldrich went on to work for the hockey programs at Notre Dame and Miami University (Ohio).

He resigned from Miami's athletic department in November 2012 shortly after he was accused of sexually assaulting an intern who had worked at the team's summer hockey camp. Police in Ohio did not charge him with a crime. He then returned to his hometown where he was convicted of sexually assaulting a member of the hockey team at a local high school where he was a volunteer coach. Information about the allegations made against Aldrich in Chicago and at Miami were not made public until after Beach filed his lawsuit this past May.

The NHL league office fined the Blackhawks $2 million in October for its "inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response" to Beach's claims against Aldrich. The league announced last week that all executives, staff and players will have to complete mandatory training sessions to learn more about abuse by the end of the year. That requirement is part of a broader initiative to try to address systemic issues of abuse in the sport. Commissioner Gary Bettman said the Blackhawks' response in 2010 was "unacceptable, both in what happened and the way it was handled."

ESPN's Dan Murphy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.