U.S. Figure Skating has requested again that the U.S. Center for SafeSport complete the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the late pairs skating champion John Coughlin to end what USFS called the “uncertainty. . .innuendo and continued speculation” about the case.
SafeSport announced Feb. 12 that it would not continue the investigation because Coughlin’s death removed the need to do it.
In a letter dated Tuesday and sent to SafeSport board chairman Frank Marshall and interim CEO Regis Becker, the USFS board asked that the decision to terminate the investigation be reconsidered.
“U.S. Figure Skating strongly believes it is imperative the Center completes its investigation to ensure the principle of fairness is met and to provide closure to this matter, including for the claimants, U.S. Figure Skating athletes and members, and Mr. Coughlin’s family,” said the letter, signed by USFS president Anne Cammett, executive director David Raith and athletes advisory committee chair Mark Ladwig.
Coughlin, a two-time U.S. pairs champion, took his own life at age 33 January 18, a day after SafeSport notified him of a temporary suspension from all activities within the sport and the Olympic movement.
The following week, USFS had first asked SafeSport to complete the investigation and encouraged the Center to involve an independent third party to avoid the possibility of apparent or actual conflicts of interest in the process.
SafeSport’s Feb. 12 announcement that it was ending the investigation did not mention Coughlin by name.
“Since the Center’s response and resolution process works to protect the sport community and other covered persons from the risks associated with sexual misconduct and abuse, it cannot advance an investigation when no potential threat exists,” the SafeSport statement said.
The USFS Tuesday letter said the lack of resolution has created a lack of trust about how SafeSport operates.
“While the Center may believe any threat has been mitigated by Mr. Coughlin’s death, the lack of a completed investigation has produced great uncertainty. Further, the lack of a completed investigation has allowed for innuendo and continued speculation to dominate the conversation instead of a resolution of the facts,” the letter said.
“Many U.S. Figure Skating athletes and members have expressed concern to U.S. Figure Skating leadership over the Center’s actions and shared that they have lost trust and confidence in how the Center processes allegations of abuse.”
An email seeking comment from SafeSport was not answered.
Coughlin was placed on restricted status by SafeSport in December and then given the interim suspension a month later. Both the restriction and suspension are interim measures SafeSport can apply while investigating and adjudicating a case.
Pending resolution of the case, the prohibitions prevented or had the effect of preventing Coughlin from doing nearly everything he had done in the sport since leaving competitive skating in 2014: coaching, commentating, representing an equipment manufacturer and serving on international and national figure skating athletes’ commissions.
USA Today reported last month that SafeSport had received three reports alleging sexual misconduct by Coughlin and that two involved minors.
Sources confirmed to Globetrotting that the initial SafeSport notice of a restriction, posted Dec. 17, led others to come forward with reports alleging sexual misconduct by Coughlin.