Ex-Penguins AHL coach is accused of sexually assaulting assistant’s wife on road trip, lawsuit says

A lawsuit brought against the Pittsburgh Penguins accuses the team’s former American Hockey League head coach of sexually assaulting an assistant coach’s wife during a team road trip in 2018.

The civil suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania last month by Erin and Jarrod Skalde, a former assistant coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, against the organization and former WBS head coach Clark Donatelli.

The suit also alleges that former Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin — currently the general manager of the Minnesota Wild — told Jarrod Skalde to keep quiet about the incident after Skalde informed him of what happened.

According to the amended lawsuit filed Monday, the Skaldes and Donatelli went to dinner together following a game in Providence, Rhode Island, on Nov. 11, 2018. When Jarrod Skalde left his wife and Donatelli alone, the coach allegedly pulled her close, putting his arm around her, and called her "sexy." 

Jarrod Skalde returned and arranged for a ride back to the hotel, the suit said, and Donatelli encouraged him to ride in the front seat so Erin Skalde and he could share the back, according to the lawsuit.

“Still in shock and uncertain what to do in response to her husband’s boss sexually assaulting her, Mrs. Skalde fearfully entered the backseat of the car, trying to put as much distance between herself and Mr. Donatelli as she could, to avoid him again sexually touching her,” the lawsuit reads.

Prior to Game 1 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Photo: Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports)

Donatelli — “once he had her in the darkness of the backseat,” the suit alleges — sexually assaulted Erin Skalde.

“Only later did Mr. Skalde find out what happened to his wife that night,” the suit said, “shaking him to the core to learn that he had sat unknowingly in the front seat as his boss had sexually assaulted his wife.”

The Skaldes didn't report the alleged assault to police, their lawyer said. 

Jarrod Skalde confronted Donatelli about the incident months later, and Donatelli apologized within a week of that conversation, per the lawsuit. Jarrod Skalde brought information of the alleged assault to Guerin, whose responsibilities included overseeing the AHL squad, at the 2019 NHL draft in Vancouver. The then-assistant GM told Jarrod Skalde it would be handled, and Jarrod Skalde met with an in-house attorney on June 25, 2019.

The Penguins dismissed Donatelli following an internal investigation, but the lawsuit alleges Guerin told Jarrod Skalde that the reason “has to stay quiet and can’t be let out.” On June 28, 2019, the Penguins said Donatelli resigned for “personal reasons.”

“We took this incident very seriously and acted immediately,” the Penguins said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “The team investigated and addressed the alleged incident within hours of being notified in June 2019 despite the fact that Mr. Skalde delayed seven months before he made any complaint.”

Guerin did not immediately respond to a request for comment through the Wild.

The Skaldes seek unspecified damages for physical and emotional pain, mental suffering and loss of income. TSN first reported the lawsuit on Tuesday.

Lawyers representing the Penguins and Lemieux Group — named as a defendant in the suit — filed a motion to dismiss the case on Nov. 24, saying the Skaldes’ claim of the Penguins’ “negligent retention” of Donatelli cannot be applied to the alleged assault of Erin Skalde. Donatelli had been with the Penguins organization since 2011.

Jarrod Skalde coached the AHL Penguins until May 5, 2020, when his contract was terminated due to pandemic-related cuts, the team said. However, the lawsuit alleges Skalde was the lone hockey operations employee impacted and that his firing is a violation of Pennsylvania’s whistleblower laws.

The team's lawyers, in their motion, argued Skalde didn’t come forward with information within the statute of limitations (180 days of the incident) and that it does not apply to the Penguins.

Skalde, 49, was hired as the head coach of the Cardiff Devils of the Elite Ice Hockey League in England in September. He played in 115 games for eight NHL teams between 1990-2002.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

Source: Read Full Article