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Blackhawks sexual assault scandal far from the only one in major sports

An independent investigation into the way the Chicago Blackhawks handled sexual assault allegations against former coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 has rocked the NHL.

An independent investigation into the way the Chicago Blackhawks handled sexual assault allegations against former coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 has rocked the NHL. Here are some other recent examples of high-profile sexual assault and misconduct cases in sports:

-- The Toronto Blue Jays severed ties with former star Roberto Alomar in April after the Hall of Famer was placed on Major League Baseball's ineligible list following an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct. Melissa Verge later came forward in a first-person essay for the Toronto Star in May, alleging that Alomar pressed his body against hers without consent and propositioned her for sex when she was an 18-year-old volunteer at a Blue Jays kids camp in 2014. The allegations have not been proven, and Alomar's lawyer Carita Wong has said he intends to address them "in the appropriate forum through the proper channels."

-- Former Canadian national ski coach Bertrand Charest was sentenced in 2017 to 12 years in prison for various sex crimes against young skiers under his care -- including minors -- in the 1990s. The Quebec Court of Appeal later dropped 21 of the 37 convictions and reduced his sentence to 57 months, from the date of conviction. He has since been granted full parole.

--  Former Canadian middle-distance runner Megan Brown alleged in February, through an article in the Globe and Mail, that Dave Scott-Thomas, a decorated former national team and University of Guelph coach,  groomed her for a sexual relationship when she was 17. Scott-Thomas has denied the allegation, which has not been tested in court. Athletes Kate Van Buskirk, Jennifer Brown and Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, who co-chair Athletics Canada's athletes commission, posted an open letter condemning Athletics Canada, saying its "inaction and dismissal perpetrated a culture of disempowerment of sex abuse victims."

-- The National Women's Soccer League recently announced an agreement with its players association to address demands made in the wake of abuse and harassment scandals that have shaken that league. Two former players accused former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley of harassment and sexual coercion. Amid the fallout, Riley was fired and NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigned.

--  Bob Birarda, a former coach with Canada's women's under-20 soccer team and the Vancouver Whitecaps, is facing six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring. The alleged offences, involving four people, have not been proven in court. Canada Soccer recently said that it has agreed to an independent review of the investigation of allegations against Birarda during the time when he was employed by the association. 

-- This week, soccer coach Hubert Busby Jr. was accused of sexual harassment by former player Malloree Enoch, stemming from alleged incidents during Busby's time as head coach of the Whitecaps between 2010 and 2011. Enoch said Busby promised to sign her as a player for the team, and alleged he then repeatedly made her room with him on various trips, and eventually attempted to pressure her for sex. The allegation has not been tested in court. Busby denied the allegations when contacted by the Guardian.

-- In 2016, USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was arrested on charges of sex abuse and possession of child pornography. Nassar, who was a doctor at Michigan State University, was sentenced to decades in prison in 2018 for sexually assaulting gymnasts at the school and elsewhere.

-- Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State, served nearly two months in jail earlier this year for endangering the welfare of children by his response to a report that assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had been seen physically abusing a boy on campus. Spanier received a report from two of his top lieutenants in early 2001 that a graduate assistant football coach had happened upon Sandusky and the boy in a team shower on a Friday night. Sandusky was first charged nearly a decade ago, in November 2011, and is currently serving a decades-long term in state prison for a multi-count child molestation conviction. The scandal led to the dismissal of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno when it came to light in 2011.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2021.

The Canadian Press