clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Blackhawks prospect Garret Ross pulled from lineup after being charged with 'revenge porn'

New, comments

Ross was a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Garret Ross got benched in Rockford over the weekend and the reason for the move isn't great news. Ross has been charged with one count of non-consensual dissemination of sexual images, also known as the "revenge porn" law, in DeKalb County, Ill.

Now the team has suspended him.

A record of the charge against Ross can be found on the DeKalb County circuit clerk's website, which says a preliminary hearing is set for April 22. Non-consensual dissemination of sexual images is a Class 4 felony in the state of Illinois and can carry a prison sentence of one-to-three years and a fine of up to $25,000. The law went into effect June 1, 2015 and is designed to prevent former romantic partners from sharing images and video that had previously been assumed to be personal and private.

The woman reported the incident to authorities in September, according to Chris Hine and Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune. Ross was officially charged on Feb. 2 following a four-month investigation that included investigators obtaining a search warrant to his cell phone. Ross turned himself in on Feb. 4 and was released on bond with permission to travel out of state while awaiting trial.

Additionally, Hine and St. Clair report that another Rockford player was involved, but has not been charged.

The woman, who lives is Sycamore, told authorities in September that she had been in a "romantic" relationship with one of Ross’ teammates on the Rockford IceHogs but ended it when she learned he already had a girlfriend. During their relationship, however, she said she exchanged nude video and pictures with the player, according to police reports obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The player and his girlfriend broke up after the girlfriend learned he was meeting other women via Tinder, according to the woman’s statement to police. Ross’s girlfriend also dumped him for the Tinder-related same reason, the woman said.

Both players blamed the Sycamore woman for "spreading lies" to their girlfriends, though the woman denied their allegation, the report states.

According to the woman’s complaint, she received angry text messages from Ross on Aug. 30 "harassing her about Tinder and the video she previously sent to" his teammate. During the text conversation, Ross sent the video, according to the police report.

"The images that were shared with him were not to be disseminated, and he knew that," Sycamore police Cmdr. Michael Anderson said.

The woman asked that both Ross and his teammate – whose name was redacted from the police records -- be charged criminally. The teammate has not been charged, police said.

The Sycamore police department says there's not enough evidence to file charges against the second player mentioned, which explains why only Ross has come into legal trouble. A copy of the Sycamore police report -- which, we must say, includes some details that you may prefer not to read -- has also been obtained and posted on 13 WREX's website.

The county records say that a status hearing was originally set for Feb. 19 before getting cancelled. A new status hearing is now scheduled for March 28. According to Chris Block of The Third Man In, word of the charge first broke online last week, which culminated in Ross being pulled from the IceHogs' lineup on Saturday and Sunday. Block says that coach Ted Dent called the move a "coach's decision" following the team's game on Sunday, but according to Block's sources, the Hawks ordered that Ross be removed from the lineup.

Chicago's sensitivity over this situation is understandable given the heat that the team received in light of its handling of the Patrick Kane situation. Kane was accused of sexual assault in August, but ultimately no charges were filed. The Hawks have stood by their star winger since then, at times earning criticism as he's remained a major part of both the team and the league's marketing.

Block says it's "unclear at this point when Blackhawks management knew of the charges against Ross." The county records show that this process has been underway since February, with the offense date listed as Aug. 31, 2015. Still, the benching seems like a fairly direct reaction to spread of word regarding the news, which has seemingly been on the county records for over a month now. It's fair to wonder when the team found out and, if it knew earlier, why it waited to act on benching Ross until last weekend.

It's not a good situation, to say the least. Ross was originally drafted by Chicago in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft and has spent the past couple years as a key cog in Rockford. Set to become a restricted free agent this summer, his career is now full of question marks.

Ed. note: This post has been updated since its original publishing March 21.