WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 27, 2013, 01:52 PM

Following complaint, Peter Cullen resigns as Moorhead High hockey coach

MOORHEAD – After school officials began investigating a complaint against him, Peter Cullen resigned as head coach of Moorhead High School’s hockey team, a district official said today shortly after 1 p.m.

By: Forum staff reports, INFORUM, Forum staff reports, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – After school officials began investigating a complaint against him, Peter Cullen resigned as head coach of Moorhead High School’s hockey team, a district official said today shortly after 1 p.m.

Kristin Dehmer, director of human resources for Moorhead schools, said that Cullen’s resignation was effective Wednesday.

She said earlier this week that district officials were reviewing a complaint lodged last week against Cullen.

The complaint, which was copied to The Forum, asserted Cullen was questioned on several different occasions by Moorhead police following 911 domestic disturbance calls made by his girlfriend. The anonymous complainant urges the district to investigate Cullen’s run-ins with police and remove him from his coaching position.

The Forum sought police records for the past five years and learned officers visited Cullen’s girlfriend’s house five times in that five-year period, each time after she called 911 to report a domestic disturbance. The most recent 911 call to police came on June 14.

Before that, police were called to Cullen’s girlfriend’s home on Feb. 11 of last year; Oct. 23, 2009; Sept. 3, 2009 and Aug. 30, 2009. It’s not clear from police reports if two of the calls involved Cullen.

In that five-year time span, Cullen was never arrested or charged with a crime.

Repeated calls to Cullen’s cell phone Wednesday and today were not returned.

Cullen was also charged in Clay County District Court with misdemeanor domestic assault in 2008 and 2004, though both cases were eventually dismissed.

In the June 14 incident, police responded to Cullen’s girlfriend’s home after receiving a 911 call just before 9 a.m.

They found the home empty, but noticed from a window that a cell phone was broken to bits on the floor and “the large amount of beer cans that lay throughout the residence.”

Later that afternoon, officers again stopped at the residence and spoke to both Cullen and his girlfriend, who acknowledged they had a verbal fight earlier that day and the girlfriend said Cullen had broken her phone.

The girlfriend said the fight was not physical, but later sent a text message to an officer saying there was more to the story she could not share while Cullen was present.

When later contacted by police, the girlfriend said she just wanted to reiterate that the dispute was not physical.

She told officers, “She and Cullen were getting along fine now and didn’t want to jeopardize his job coaching,” according to the police report.

Moorhead Deputy Chief Shannon Monroe told The Forum the June 14 incident “was investigated as a domestic type of disturbance, but there was nothing there for anything to be charged or even sent over to the county attorney for a review of charges.”

When police were called to the same home at 3 a.m. on Feb. 11 of last year, the woman stated she and Cullen had gotten into a verbal argument and she called 911. She said it was not physical.

Still, the two officers not-ed in their report that they “had been in separate incidences of physical domestics in which Peter Cullen had seriously beaten” the woman.

The officers don’t specifically cite the previous incidents.

Following a 3 a.m. Aug. 30, 2009, 911 call to the same home, police reported they found the same woman “visibly shaking, crying at this point, and appeared to have bruising on the left side of her neck.”

Officers said Cullen was bleeding from a forearm, but said the blood was from a construction work injury.

He was instructed to leave the area and have somebody pick him up.

Dehmer said earlier this week that the district had no disciplinary actions against Cullen on file.

Cullen was named head boys hockey coach at Moorhead in April after having served the previous season as interim head coach.

He led the Spuds to a fifth-place finish at this year’s state hockey tour-nament and was named Section 8 coach of the year.

He played for the Spuds hockey team, graduating in 1995, and is a cousin to former Moorhead High standout and current Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen.

Check back later for an update on this developing story.