SafeSport calls out figure skating for unchecked "culture of abuse"

SafeSport calls out figure skating for unchecked "culture of abuse"

 In response to a U.S. Figure Skating letter that challenged its credibility and operating methods, the U.S. Center for SafeSport has criticized figure skating for a culture that “allowed grooming and abuse to go on unchecked for too long.”

SafeSport leveled that charge in a statement sent to Globetrotting that also rejected a USFS request made last week for the Center to complete its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made against late pairs skater John Coughlin.

It a Feb. 26 letter to the SafeSport board of directors, USFS cited concerns about the way SafeSport handles such allegations as a reason for wanting the investigation finished.

“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,” the USFS letter said.

SafeSport’s Monday statement said its work on the Coughlin case and “other Figure Skating matters” had uncovered evidence that there “was/is” a wider problem of abuse in the sport.

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U.S. Figure Skating asks again for SafeSport to finish investigation into allegations against John Coughlin

U.S. Figure Skating asks again for SafeSport to finish investigation into allegations against John Coughlin

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 commission chair Mark Ladwig.

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U.S. Figure Skating disappointed over all questions left unanswered by SafeSport decision to end investigation into allegations against late national champion John Coughlin

U.S. Figure Skating disappointed over all questions left unanswered by SafeSport decision to end investigation into allegations against late national champion John Coughlin

 The U.S. Center for SafeSport has ended its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the late figure skater John Coughlin despite a strongly worded request from U.S. Figure Skating to complete the process.

That news was contained in an opaque statement Tuesday from SafeSport spokesman Dan Hill “regarding its (the Center’s) application of interim measures in response to recent events.“

The statement did not mention Coughlin by name, which Hill indicated in an email was a SafeSport policy.  Its critical point, made obtusely, was Coughlin’s death precluded the need to continue:

“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 statement said.

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U.S. Figure Skating calls on SafeSport to continue investigation of misconduct allegations against the late John Coughlin

U.S. Figure Skating calls on SafeSport to continue investigation of misconduct allegations against the late John Coughlin

DETROIT - United States Figure Skating has asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to complete its investigation into allegations against the late John Coughlin and “encouraged” SafeSport to involve a third party in the investigation.

“U.S. Figure Skating believes it is imperative that the Center complete its investigation,” USFS executive director David Raith told a press conference Thursday at the U.S. Championships.  “We believe the Center has an obligation to all involved in our (skating) community to do so.

“We also suggested they hire a third-party investigator or outside counsel to handle that.  (If there are) any conflicts, having a third party go forth would hopefully settle that matter.”

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The John Coughlin story, tragic for all involved, should lead to empathy and understanding instead of finger-pointing

The John Coughlin story, tragic for all involved, should lead to empathy and understanding instead of finger-pointing

Let’s start with the simple fact that John Coughlin’s death is a tragedy.

Whatever the circumstances and reasons that led the 33-year-old pairs figure skating national champion to take his own life Friday, as his sister’s Facebook post confirmed, they do not mitigate the pain Coughlin’s passing has brought to his family and friends.

And the desire of those people to express their love and support for Coughlin does not mitigate the pain of those who have reported being victimized by him.

Coughlin’s death leaves many questions specific to his case that likely will never be answered and other, broader questions that should continue to be asked.

Yet too many people have felt compelled to draw conclusions based on assumptions, misinformation and misunderstanding.

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