DETROIT (AP) — Two U.S. Figure Skating executives urged a full investigation into abuse allegations against former skater and coach John Coughlin, who killed himself last week.
Anne Cammett, president of the federation, and David Raith, USFS executive director, held a news conference at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday. Cammett mentioned abuse allegations against Coughlin, but she and Raith did not go into detail.
“Whenever an allegation of sexual misconduct comes to light, it’s upsetting for everyone,” Raith said. “We get that. We all have emotions. Those many emotions can cause pain to those who have been abused, and I want to say at the outset, if you’ve been abused, know someone who’s been abused, or is being abused, or you suspect abuse is occurring, please come forward. You are not alone.”
Coughlin, a two-time national pairs champion, received an interim suspension from the U.S. Center for SafeSport and USFS a week ago for unspecified conduct. He was barred from any activities sanctioned by the skating body or the U.S. Olympic Committee. He then was found dead in Kansas City, Missouri, on Friday.
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“John was well liked by many, from kids in his home rink in Kansas City, all the way to the leadership at ISU in Lausanne, Switzerland, and we were disheartened by the abuse allegations against him,” Cammett said. “But we take every allegation seriously, and we need to hear from those who may have suffered abuse, and we support them.”
Raith said the federation has reached out to SafeSport.
“We actually sent an additional email communication to them, specifically stating what we said today here, and we also suggested to them that they hire a third-party investigator or outside counsel,” Raith said.
Cammett said there wouldn’t be closure if the review were cut short.
“When allegations of abuse are made, we need to make sure the process is fair and carried out to the fullest extent under the circumstances,” Cammett said.
Scandals have plagued other Olympic sports, most notably gymnastics, in which hundreds of athletes have detailed being abused by imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar.
Skaters will be competing at U.S. nationals through Sunday, and it has been an emotional week after Coughlin’s death.
“Everybody is heartbroken, but we’re here,” said Haven Denney, whose older sister Caydee was Coughlin’s skating partner for their 2012 U.S. title. “All of us skaters can find strength in this difficult time. I’m keeping the Coughlin family in my thoughts and prayers.”
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