Couple settles sexual assault case with Pittsburgh Penguins

Jarrod and Erin Skalde have reached a resolution with the Pittsburgh Penguins following claims that she was sexually assaulted by former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach John “Clark” Donatelli in 2018.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed. Romanucci & Blandin, the law firm representing Erin Skalde, said on Tuesday that the legal matter “has come to satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved.”

Jarrod Skalde, an assistant coach with the AHL Penguins at the time, first filed a lawsuit against the Penguins in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in November 2020 that alleged Donatelli assaulted Erin Skalde while the three of them were in a car during a team road trip in Rhode Island. Skalde further alleged that Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin, who oversaw the AHL affiliate, told him to keep quiet about the incident when informed about it.

“We are pleased that the Penguins organization worked with us to resolve this dispute so that Jarrod and his family can move on with their lives,” said Jarrod Skalde’s lawyers Charles Wentworth and David Fish in a statement.

Erin Skalde said in a statement that “the events of the last three years have been deeply challenging, and my hope is to now move forward as an advocate for others.”

Last week, Romanucci & Blandin announced a press conference that would have detailed a civil suit Erin Skalde was expected to file in Rhode Island against the Penguins, Donatelli, Guerin and the Penguins’ co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle. But that press conference was hastily postponed, with the law firm announcing that “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.” No further information about that has been released.

A representative for Romanucci & Blandin could not confirm nor deny that the civil suit was ever filed by Erin Skalde in Rhode Island last week.

The Penguins have said they “acted immediately” upon becoming aware of the accusations in June 2019, which is when they claim Jarrod Skalde first informed them. The team has said it conducted a “full investigation within 72 hours” and Donatelli soon departed from the organization.

While Skalde claims he was let go from the Penguins in May 2020 for his complaint against Donatelli, the Penguins said he coached with them for an additional year and that his dismissal was due to “significant staff reductions due to the Covid-19 pandemic” that year.

“The Penguins and Skaldes have agreed to resolve all claims,” the team said in a statement on Tuesday. “Through this resolution, the Penguins hope to bring closure to the Skaldes, provide some measure of peace, and continue to encourage and promote a culture of openness, accountability, and respect at all levels of professional sports.”

The settlement comes during a tumultuous few weeks in the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks accepted the resignations of general manager Stan Bowman and senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac following an investigation into how the team handled sexual assault allegations against former video coach Brad Aldrich during its 2010 Stanley Cup run. Former Blackhawks then current Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville also resigned after meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about his inaction following the claims made by former player Kyle Beach.

Bowman also stepped aside as general manager of the U.S. men’s national team for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

It’s been widely believed that Guerin, now the general manager of the Minnesota Wild, would take over managing the Olympic roster. The resolution of this legal action by the Skaldes would clear one hurdle for Guerin. But TSN reported in October that the U.S. Center for SafeSport has opened an investigation into Guerin about the way he handled the accusations against Donatelli, and those findings have yet to be announced publicly.

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