Lawsuit alleges sexual assault by hockey coach, cover-up

MINNEAPOLIS — A 1980s University of Minnesota hockey recruit is among five men suing a former Gophers assistant coach and the school as well as other hockey organizations on allegations they were sexually assaulted by the coach and it was covered up.

The federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Minnesota accuses Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas of blindfolding his teenage and college-age victims and sexually assaulting them while making them believe a woman named “Sheila” was performing a sex act on them.

Former Gophers recruit Mike Sacks alleges that when the University of Minnesota athletic director at the time, Paul Giel, was told of the abuse he failed to alert law enforcement and instead reported Adrahtas’ actions to the Board of Regents, which also failed to act on it. Giel died in 2002.

The suit alleges that the plan was to fire head coach Brad Buetow without explanation, allow Adrahtas to resign and kick Sacks out of the hockey program two months after being promised a full athletic scholarship, the Star Tribune reported.

“One day I had friends, and the next day I didn’t,” Sacks, who lives in the Chicago area, said Friday. “I had to deal with why did hockey blame me when I didn’t do anything wrong. Why didn’t hockey protect me? They protected themselves and the institution.”

The other plaintiffs are Christopher Jensen, Brent Cary, Benjamin Cole and Kelly Gee. They say they were similarly preyed upon while playing hockey for Adrahtas in Illinois, and the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois and USA Hockey, the sport’s national governing body, failed to protect them.

The scheme by Adrahtas was repeated many times and not only involved Adrahtas sexually assaulting the players but also finding other adults who paid the coach so they could be “Sheila,” the suit said.

Adrahtas did not respond to several phone, text and email messages left by the Star Tribune. The University of Minnesota declined the newspaper’s request Friday to interview any of its senior administrators.

“It’s the university’s typical practice not to provide further comment on pending or active litigation,” said spokesman Jake Ricker, replying on behalf of the university and the regents.