Lawsuit: Clark Donatelli Retained by Penguins Despite Sexual Assault Allegations

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2020

The team logo is in the center of the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room before players come in to talk to the media before leaving for the off season two days after being swept by the New York Islanders in the first round of the NHL hockey playoffs, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at their practice facility in Cranberry Township, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

A former assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate and his wife have filed a lawsuit against the Penguins related to sexual assault allegations.

According to TSN's Rick Westhead, former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins assistant Jarrod Skalde alleged in a lawsuit that then-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Clark Donatelli sexually assaulted his wife, Erin Skalde, during a team road trip in Providence, Rhode Island, in November 2018.

The Skaldes allege that after having dinner with Donatelli, Erin Skalde and Donatelli were briefly alone. Donatelli allegedly put his arm around her, called her "sexy" and groped her breasts.

When Jarrod Skalde joined them for the car ride back to their hotel, Donatelli allegedly insisted on sitting in the backseat with Erin while Jarrod was in front. During the ride, Donatelli allegedly continued to grope her.

Per the lawsuit: "Only later did Mr. Skalde find out what happened to his wife that night, shaking him to the core to learn that he had sat unknowingly in the front seat as his boss has sexually assaulted his wife."

Skalde alleged that when he told then-Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin about the assault seven months later, Guerin told him to "keep quiet" about it. Guerin is currently the general manager of the Minnesota Wild.

The Penguins announced in June 2019 that Donatelli had resigned as head coach of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton due to personal reasons, and Skalde's contract was not renewed in May 2020.

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Skalde alleges the Penguins violated Pennsylvania’s whistleblower laws by firing him for coming forward to the team with the allegations, as he was the only one of the 21 people in hockey operations who the team parted ways with, but Penguins lawyer Lori Armstrong denied the claim:

"The team investigated and took immediate action in June 2019 when notified of the alleged incident, which Mr. Skalde reported seven months after it allegedly occurred. Mr. Skalde continued to coach for the team [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton] for an additional year, when his contract was not renewed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The allegations made against the team have no merit, and we have moved to dismiss the complaint."

The Skaldes said they didn't report the alleged assault immediately after it happened "because they had never experienced such an attack and were unsure what to do." Jarrod Skalde said he was also concerned about potential repercussions against the team.

After they confronted Donatelli days later, Donatelli allegedly said he was too drunk to recall what happened, but ultimately apologized and said he would inform Guerin of what he did. After Donatelli failed to do so, the Skaldes decided to inform Guerin themselves.

In the lawsuit, the Skaldes alleged they learned of "countless other episodes of inappropriate conduct by Mr. Donatelli, sexual and otherwise, which apparently the Penguins were aware of but did little or nothing to stop."

The Penguins have filed a motion to dismiss the Skaldes' lawsuit.

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