FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge in Minnesota on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit by eight former hockey players alleging sexual abuse by a college and youth coach in the 1980s, suggesting in the order that the case might be better served in state courts.
The plaintiffs have accused Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas of repeated sexual assault, abuse, molestation and harassment while they played on his teams at various levels of the sport. Many of the accusers, all male, were minors at the time.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Adrahtas, the University of Minnesota, USA Hockey and the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois.
U.S. District Judge Eric Tostrud said in Tuesday’s order that the “short summary of a longer more complicated story” is that the federal claims are barred by statutes of limitations and it makes sense to dismiss that case so it can be tried “in another proceeding or forum.”
Nicholas Economakos, an attorney for the former players, said that while he was disappointed by the ruling he respected the judge’s 51-page order, which Economakos said “drew a road map” for next steps. Economakos said that could include a federal appeal, since the dismissal left open the possibility for more action, or filing complaints in up to five states.
“We’re considering all of our options,” Economakos told The Associated Press.
Jake Ricker, spokesman for the University of Minnesota, said university officials “have believed the facts according to law” supported dismissal of the case and they appreciate the judge’s ruling.
“The University’s legal perspective on this particular case does not diminish our commitment to doing all we can to prevent sexual misconduct and our unwavering empathy and support for victim-survivors,” Ricker said in a statement.
Jill Brisbois, an attorney for Adrahtas, did not immediately return an email message seeking comment.
Economakos said he’s looking for justice for the teenage boys who were sexually assaulted by a coach “with the blessings” of organizations that were supposed to protect them.
“We are aware of numerous other victims who are not at least at this time ready to come forward and join the complaint. But we’re hopeful that changes moving forward because every additional survivor makes it harder for the courts and the legislatures to ignore and do what’s right in this matter,” he said.
The accusations against Adrahtas were first reported by The Athletic in 2020.
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