FARGO, ND (AP) – A federal judge in Minnesota on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit from eight former hockey players alleging sexual abuse by a college and youth coach in the 1980s, which in turn suggested the case could be better served in state courts.
The plaintiffs have accused Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas of repeated sexual assault, abuse, assault and harassment while playing on his team at various levels of the sport. Many of the accused, all men, were minors at the time.
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The defendants in the lawsuit are Adrahtas, University of Minnesota, USA Hockey and Amateur Hockey Association Illinois.
U.S. District Judge Eric Tostrud said in Tuesday’s ruling that the “short summary of a longer and more complicated story” is that federal claims are barred by statute of limitations, and it makes sense to dismiss that case so it can be tried “in a other procedure or forum. “
Nicholas Economakos, a lawyer for the former players, said that although he was disappointed with the ruling, he respected the referee’s 51-page order, which Economakos said “drew up a roadmap” for the next steps. Economakos said it could include a federal appeal as the dismissal opened up the possibility of more action or filing of complaints in up to five states.
“We are considering all our options,” Economakos told the Associated Press.
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Jill Brisbois, an attorney for Adrahtas, did not immediately return an email to seek comment. University of Minnesota officials said they were considering a statement.
Economakos said he was looking for justice for the teenage boys who were sexually abused by a coach “with blessings” from organizations that were supposed to protect them.
“We are aware of several other victims who are not, at least for the time being, ready to step forward and join the complaint. But we hope that changes will move forward as each additional survivor makes it harder for the courts and legislators to ignore and do the right thing in this matter, ”he said.
The charges against Adrahtas were first reported by The Athletic in 2020.
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