USA Hockey president under investigation for handling of youth hockey abuse allegations

Liz Roscher
·2-min read
USA Hockey president Jim Smith is being investigated for his handling of sexual abuse allegations in youth hockey. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
USA Hockey president Jim Smith is being investigated for his handling of sexual abuse allegations in youth hockey. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

USA Hockey president Jim Smith is reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Center for SafeSport over his alleged handling — or mishandling — of sexual abuse accusations in the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois, according to Katie Strang of The Athletic.

The sexual abuse allegations center on Tom Adrahtas, a longtime coach with AHAI. Adrahtas allegedly abused several junior AHAI players in the 1980s, when Smith was serving as AHAI president. The Athletic reported that a former junior hockey team owner told Smith that he believed Adrahtas was sexually abusing junior hockey players. Multiple people within the organization also believe Smith was aware of “long-standing concerns about Adrahtas’ behavior.”

Smith, who continues to be deeply involved with AHAI, apparently did nothing. On May 7 he denied that he’d ever heard any allegations against Adrahtas, telling The Athletic: “In my time as president of AHAI, there were no reports alleging misconduct by Tom Adrahtas.”

Pat Kelleher, USA Hockey executive director, released a statement to The Athletic via a spokesperson.

“The U.S. Center for SafeSport has advised us they have taken jurisdiction and are investigating allegations that people within AHAI, including Jim Smith, were aware of sexual misconduct by Thomas Adrahtas and did not take action.”

AHAI took action against Adrahtas in 2010 after former junior hockey player Chris Jensen sent the organization a letter detailing how Adrahtas sexually abused him in 1984. Adrahtas was coaching the Robert Morris University men’s hockey team in 2010, and failed to show up for a hearing about the allegations.

Adrahtas was indefinitely suspended by AHAI, but he continued to coach at Robert Morris for another eight years. According to Strang, it’s not clear if AHAI ever told anyone at Robert Morris about the allegations or suspension, or if anyone ever contacted law enforcement. Adrahtas continued to coach at Robert Morris University until 2018, despite a 2012 police report from a former University of Minnesota hockey player who accused Adrahtas of trying to trick him into participating in a sex act in 1984-85, when Adrahtas was an assistant coach at the school.

Kelleher told The Athletic that the organization has appointed several USA Hockey directors who are independent of AHAI to investigate the allegations. They will also investigate internal processes related to financial transparency and the handling of complaints.

In February, Adrahtas gave this comment to The Athletic regarding the allegations: "I’ve never sexually abused anyone.”

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