Penguins sexual assault scandal, explained: Former AHL assistant coach, wife file lawsuits alleging assault, retaliation


Content Warning: This story contains details about an alleged sexual assault.
A year ago, a lawsuit was filed against the Penguins, their owner, and their former Wilkes-Barre / Scranton head coach for “negligently retaining a known serial stalker, defendant Clark Donatelli, as head coach, causing him to allows women to be sexually harassed and assaulted. “and then to” retaliate against her husband “after he reported the assault. The lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania because the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are the Pittsburgh Penguins’ American Hockey League team.Former Wilkes-Barre / Scranton assistant coach Jarrod Skalde and his wife, Erin, are the plaintiffs. The lawsuit details an alleged incident that occurred in Rhode Island and the subsequent alleged cover-up by the organization. Skalde was fired by the Penguins in May 2020 and cites in the lawsuit that he believes the club fired him in retaliation for denouncing Donatelli, who left the club in June 2019.”We take this Wilkes-Barre / Scranton incident very seriously and act immediately,” read a statement from Penguins on Nov. 2. “The team investigated and addressed the alleged incident within hours of being notified in June 2019, despite the fact that Mr. Skalde took seven months before reporting the incident. Immediately after receiving the report, a full investigation was conducted within 72 hours and the former coach resigned from the organization.
“Following the report, Mr. Skalde continued training at Wilkes-Barre / Scranton for another year, until we made significant staff reductions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”On November 2, Erin Skalde’s attorneys were scheduled to hold a press conference announcing that they would be filing an additional civil lawsuit in Rhode Island, but were stopped because another woman had come forward alleging sexual assault by Donatelli.

What are the accusations?

Former Wilkes-Barre / Scranton assistant coach Jarrod Skalde filed a lawsuit in November 2020 alleging that then-head coach Clark Donatelli assaulted his wife, Erin, during a team trip to Providence, RI, in November. 2018.The lawsuit contends that when Jarrod Skalde left to schedule a car ride back to the team’s hotel, Donatelli pulled Erin Skalde closer to him by putting his arm around her and calling her “sexy.” When she pushed him away, the lawsuit alleges, he reached under her shirt, touched her breasts, and tried to reach into her pants.Jarrod Skalde returned and the three of them got into a car with Donatelli telling Jarrod Skalde to go ahead. Still in a state of shock and not knowing what to do in response to the sexual assault of her husband’s boss, Ms. Skalde entered the back seat of the car fearfully, trying to put as much distance between herself and Mr. Donatelli as she could. , to avoid it again. touching her sexually, ”the lawsuit says.Donatelli then sexually assaulted Erin while they were riding in the back seat, touching her again, according to the lawsuit.”Mr. Donatelli resumed his sexual assault and assault on Ms. Skalde once he had her in the dark in the back seat,” the lawsuit says. “Not only did he touch her breasts again, but he also forced her to lower his hands through her pants and touched her vagina, despite her efforts to push it away. Ms. Skalde was in shock and began to cry. … Only later did Mr. Skalde find out what happened to his wife that night, shaking him to the core to learn that he had unknowingly sat in the front seat while his boss had sexually assaulted his wife. “The lawsuit also alleges that Donatelli was a serial offender and had assaulted other women, including the Skaldes’ friend, who was visiting from out of town. He alleges that in November 2018 he tried to lift his shirt and grope it in a Pennsylvania bar.

What is the chronology of events?

November 11, 2018 The Skaldes and Donatelli are going to Rhode Island for dinner after a Penguins game and Donatelli allegedly sexually assaulted Erin Skalde multiple times, according to a lawsuit.May 15, 2019Jarrod Skalde confronts Donatelli about the assault on his wife and other women, according to the lawsuit. Donatelli claims he was “too drunk” to remember the events of that night, the lawsuit says. Six days later, he apologizes to Jarrod Skalde and, after Erin confronts him, says he will seek help and tell Guerin what happened, according to the lawsuit.June 21, 2019In the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, BC, Skalde briefs then-Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin of the assault after Donatelli failed to comply, according to the lawsuit. Skalde is told that it will be handled, according to the lawsuit.June 25, 2019Jarrod Skalde meets with an in-house attorney and describes his wife’s struggles with the emotional trauma of the night. The lawyer asks, at the end, if “he was afraid of losing his job as a result of reporting Mr. Donatelli’s conduct and he answered yes, he was afraid.” Erin Skalde was never interviewed, according to the lawsuit.June 28, 2019Publicly, Donatelli resigns for “personal reasons.” Donatelli was reportedly fired, but Skalde claims Guerin told him: “Knowledge of the incident and the termination had to be suppressed, warning that ‘you have to remain silent and cannot be let out.'”Aug 21, 2019Bill Guerin is hired as Wild’s new general manager.September 2019Skalde is given a reduced role and the responsibility of directing the team’s power play is removed. He also cites that he was the “only trainer left with an old, outdated computer.”May 5, 2020Jarrod Skalde is let go by the penguins. Skalde says it’s because he complained to the team about Donatelli. The organization says it was “due to the impact of the COVID-019 pandemic” that his contract was not renewed. According to the lawsuit, he was the only member of the hockey operations staff (21 total employees) fired.A week laterWilkes-Barre / Scranton head coach Mike Vellucci (who was hired after Donatelli was fired) asks Skalde if he would be interested in coaching the ECHL affiliate in Wheeling, Virginia, and he says yes. He is interviewed on May 27, 2020.November 3, 2020The lawsuit is filed in Pennsylvania. November 2, 2021Erin Skalde’s attorneys, Romanucci & Blandin LLC, announce that they will hold a Zoom press conference to discuss the impending filing of a civil lawsuit on their behalf against the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, Clark Donatelli, Bill Guerin, LP of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Lemieux Group LP and co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle.

“The lawsuit will state that the sexual abuse occurred on a team road trip and that the team’s handling of the incident included the organization’s management telling Jarrod to keep quiet, that Erin was called a liar and was never interviewed as part of the team’s investigation, in conjunction with Jarrod’s dismissal from the organization, ”the press release reads. “In addition, the Penguins organization has made public comments that show utter disregard for the experience of a victim of sexual assault and have re-traumatized her several times.”

A few hours later, the founding partner Antonio M. Romanucci, releases the following update:

“There has been a development in the case that we will bring on behalf of Erin Skalde for sexual assault by former WBS Penguins hockey coach Clark Donatelli. A second woman who detailed a similar assault by Donatelli on a different date and time in a different location has hired our law firm. Our legal team is moving swiftly to investigate those events, the similar pattern of aggression, and Donatelli’s performance with unbridled impunity.

“We hope that he and other people involved are held accountable for their actions. The time has come for the reckoning, the time to stop the stench of hockey culture by putting sport before the sanctity of human decency. ”

November 9, 2021The penguins issued the following statement announcing that the organization and the Skalde have agreed to reach an agreement:

In June 2019, the Penguins received a report on an alleged incident in November 2018 involving then-AHL affiliate head coach at Wilkes-Barre and Erin Skalde, the wife of then-Wilkes-Barre assistant coach Jarrod. Skalde. Upon receiving this report, the penguins immediately conducted a thorough investigation and took immediate action. Within days, the former coach who was allegedly involved in the incident withdrew from the organization.

In November 2020, Jarrod and Erin Skalde filed a lawsuit against the Penguins and the former Wilkes-Barre coach. The Penguins and Skaldes have agreed to resolve all claims. Through this resolution, the Penguins hope to close the Skaldes, bring some peace, and continue to encourage and promote a culture of openness, responsibility, and respect at all levels of professional sports.