Penguins face lawsuit over allegations of sexual assault

The team logo is in the center of the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room before players come in. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

The wife of a former assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins' AHL affiliate plans to file a sexual assault lawsuit against former coach Clark Donatelli, former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins GM (and current Minnesota Wild GM) Bill Guerin, the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle and others.

Erin Skalde's lawyers were planning to hold a Zoom press conference on Tuesday to detail the allegations, but postponed it after what they say is another development.

“A second woman who detailed a similar assault by Donatelli on a different date and different time in a different location has retained our law firm. Our legal team is moving quickly to investigate those facts, the similar pattern of assault and Donatelli’s acting with unbridled impunity. We look forward to holding him and others who were involved accountable for their actions. The time of reckoning has arrived, time to stop the stench of hockey culture putting sports before the sanctity of human decency,” said lawyer Antonio M. Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin.

Skalde's lawsuit will state that sexual abuse took place on a team road trip to Providence, R.I. on Nov. 11, 2018. The lawsuit also says that the team's handling of the incident included former assistant coach Jarrod Skalde being told to keep quiet and Erin being called a liar and never being interviewed as part of the team's investigation.

In a statement to Sportsnet, the Penguins said: "We took this Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 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 reported the incident. Immediately upon 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 to coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for an additional year, until we made significant staff reductions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The lawsuit will be filed in state court in Rhode Island.

Erin and Jarrod Skalde also are suing the Penguins in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, alleging Donatelli molested Erin Skalde during an outing on a road trip in 2018.

The lawsuit is still active and a judge on Sept. 30 denied the Penguins' motion for arbitration instead of a jury trial.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

-- With files from The Associated Press.

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