Lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by UMN hockey coach doesn’t belong in MN federal courts, judge says – Twin Cities

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed all claims in a lawsuit filed against the University of Minnesota and two hockey organizations alleging a former coach’s alleged sexual abuse of several hockey players and recruits.

The lawsuit cannot proceed in the Minnesota federal courts because the court lacks jurisdiction for various reasons, US District Judge Eric Tostrud wrote.

Each of the 31 counts was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the eight plaintiffs can still pursue their allegations in a new lawsuit.

Her Chicago attorney, Nick Economakos, said he would consider appealing or filing multiple individual complaints in federal or state courts.

“We are disappointed with Judge Tostrud’s ruling today, but we understand that finding the appropriate jurisdiction for such a complex matter involving parties from multiple states is complicated,” he said via email.

ABUSE CLAIMS

The case involves Tom “Chico” Adrahtas, who began coaching youth hockey in Illinois in the early 1980s, worked as an assistant coach for the U in 1984-85 and coached elsewhere until 2018.

Several hockey players, including some who played for the Gophers, said Adrahtas would routinely offer them oral sex with a woman named “Sheila” as long as the players were blindfolded and their limbs fixed.

The players say that they eventually found out that “Sheila” was actually Adrahtas and sometimes other men who they believed paid Adrahtas for the opportunity.

The players were between 14 and 20 years old at the time of the abuse.

Adrahtas was working for the U when he allegedly assaulted or attempted to assault plaintiffs Michael Sacks, Jeffrey Walker, Christopher Jensen and Frank Pietrangelo, and an unnamed man.

According to the lawsuit, the U allowed Adrahtas to resign after some players disclosed the scheme, but the U failed to warn the coach’s next employer, allowing Adrahtas to abuse more junior hockey players in Illinois.

Plaintiffs Brent Cary, Benjamin Cole and Kelly Gee say Adrahtas molested them between 1988 and 2003.

AFTER THE 2020 COVER, MORE PLAYERS WILL PARTICIPATE

Adrahta’s last coaching job was head coaching at Robert Morris University Illinois; He resigned in November 2018, two months after Sacks filed the complaint with Robert Morris and the American Collegiate Hockey Association that exposed the scheme.

After the 2020 coverage, more players came forward. Also that year, the U hired a law firm, which found that its athletics department was aware of the allegations in the 1980s and did not act.

“The University of Minnesota admitted that key members of the university were aware of the sexual assault allegations against Thomas Adrahtas and that they did not report or investigate him,” Economakos said. “If they had done that, Adrahtas would not have coached and sexually abused players for four decades.”

Adrahtas’ lawyers did not respond to requests for comment. Adrahtas, now 66 and living in Florida, has not been criminally charged.

University spokesman Jake Ricker said, “From the beginning of this case, we believed that the facts under law supported the dismissal of this case against the university, and we appreciate that the court agreed. The university’s legal perspective in this particular case does not diminish our commitment to doing everything we can to prevent sexual misconduct and our unwavering empathy and support for victim-survivors.”

WAIT TOO LONG

Judge Tostrod wrote that the alleged abuse happened too long ago to pursue certain federal claims now because there is a six-year statute of limitations. And a Minnesota law that mandates indefinite periods of time for child sexual abuse claims does not apply to federal lawsuits.

Civil claims against the U and its Board of Regents have been dismissed because the institutions are not considered a “person” who can be sued for damages.

Tostrod denied the remaining charges implying state statutes of negligence, fraud and personal injury because these state claims are brought in state courts with no surviving federal charges.

The judge also determined that Minnesota is not the right place for the lawsuit because Adrahtas has not lived here in 36 years and half of the plaintiffs have not spent time here. Adrahtas allegedly ran the program in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Florida, as well as in Minnesota.

In addition to the U, the lawsuit named USA Hockey and the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois as defendants.

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