A former NHL minor league assistant and his wife are moving forward with a federal lawsuit against the Pittsburgh Penguins for allegedly negligently retaining a coach who sexually assaulted the woman and retaliating against her husband for reporting the incident, according to a Friday report from The Associated Press.
Jarrod and Erin Skalde filed their suit against the Penguins about one year ago in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the AP reports, claiming that former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach Clark Donatelli molested Erin Skalde while they were on a road trip in 2018. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team is an American Hockey League affiliate of the Penguins, according to the AP.
Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant general manager Bill Guerin, now the general manager of the Minnesota Wild, is accused of asking Jared Skalde to keep the reason behind Donatelli's firing quiet, according to the AP. The suit says the team retaliated against Skalde for reporting his wife's assault, including terminating him under the excuse that it was a pandemic-related staff reduction.
The Penguins put out a statement to AP on Thursday, stating, “We took this incident very seriously and acted immediately. 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. Following the report, Mr. Skalde continued to coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for an additional year, until we made significant staff reductions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The lawsuit is reportedly still active, and a judge on Sept. 30 denied the Penguins' motion for arbitration as opposed to trial by jury.
This latest allegation comes amidst several other sexual assault accusations against sports team higher-ups.
Former Chicago Blackhawks' player Kyle Beach opened up this week about his claims against former coach Bradley Aldrich, saying that he had sexually abused him and threatened to hurt him emotionally, physically or financially if Beach did not engage in sexual acts with him in 2010.
The general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks and the president of its hockey operations resigned Tuesday amid the scandal.
Joel Quenneville of the of the Florida Panthers also resigned Thursday as head coach of the team following a meeting with the NHL commissioner that discussed his involvement in the Chicago Blackhawks abuse case. Quenneville is accused of being aware of the situation and having taken part in at least one meeting regarding the allegations.