Coughlin's family speaks, shares perspective on SafeSport investigation

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Aerobicidal

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I don't think it would be possible for someone to write a more biased story. Whether there are survivors in this given case or not, this article sends such a strong message that allegations of abuse will be overwhelmingly discredited and disbelieved that its legitimate points on reforming Safe Sport and generating (deserved) sympathy and empathy are almost totally lost.
 

Carolla5501

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They are asking for an investigation. Of course they think he’s innocent. But the truth is that we won’t ever know. Personally I’m not impressed with SafeSports and their system. Like it or not you probably should have enough for an indictment before you get to deprive someone of their livelihood


The BS i see is posted here. Posters feel free to “condemn” and don’t seem to think the other side should be allowed to defend.

We don’t know and probably won’t ever know the Facts.
 

Rock2

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Personally I’m not impressed with SafeSports and their system. Like it or not you probably should have enough for an indictment before you get to deprive someone of their livelihood

I believe that's pretty much their process.

They do a fair amount of interviews and investigating before they take action. And it's an escalating amount of work to get to another level of certainty before they elevate the sanctions against the coach.

And while I find this Coughlin situation utterly tragic, I might reword your comment of "...you probably should have enough for an indictment before you get to deprive someone of their livelihood" to "....you probably should have enough for an indictment before you take steps to protect current and potentially future victims"

I guess it all depends on who you think SafeSport exists to protect.
 

Rock2

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Spun out of control: The desperate final days of skater John Coughlin
https://www.kansascity.com/news/loc...-5opDOED0W5cSwxQKCJ8C5rKOiSr6A1k9rSYo9lnDpp8M

This is an article from the Kansas City Star, based on interviews with John Coughlin's father and sister. They give their perspective on the case and the SafeSport investigation.

I think his family's response is understandable. Their focus is John and they are too close to the situation to have an objective point of view. They are very much in pain and I completely understand that they need to convey their grief, despite how it might come across to some.

It's a shame that John chose not to take steps to clear his name as so many other coaches have been able to do. Leaving this situation as an untied shoe of sorts must by doubly upsetting for his family and friends.

Perhaps something that can come of this is for SafeSport to introduce tools for the coaches who are under investigation to receive professional counselling or support if needed until the investigation is over. I'll assume that currently does not exist. Yes, the priority is the victims and potential victims, but that doesn't mean the coaches should be completely ignored if they haven't to date been found guilty.
 

muffinplus

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Sorry, but are we going to have new threads about this every week or so? 2 previous threads about this have been closed because it's been discussed to death... I think everything has been said about this already in the other 2.
 
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The article backs up several of the rumors I had heard, specifically that:
1. the accusations are not recent and come from a time when Coughlin was a skater
2. the situations were believed to be more "Romeo and Juliet" than Nassar
3. the people involved were, at least until recently, on good terms with Coughlin
4. the complaints may have come from a third-party rather than the skater(s) themselves

None of this is to say Coughlin is absolutely innocent. It's very possible he did something that technically violated Safe Sport regulations and/or the law. In one of the earlier threads, I pointed to Christopher Pottenger, who was suspended for having a sexual relationship with someone he wasn't coaching when he was in his early 20s and the skater was 16. I think we can all agree that was wrong, but far less wrong than Nassar. Redemption is possible, and not all situations need to result in a lifetime ban. Not all violators are necessarily predators, at least in my view. Skaters are not the most mature people and live in a bubble; a 22-year-old and a 16-year-old may not be as different in the skating world as in the real world. This isn't to excuse the behavior; it's inexcusable, wrong, needs to be called out as wrong, and needs punishment commensurate to the offense.

I feel for Coughlin's family, especially if it's the case -- pure speculation -- that this was a "Romeo and Juliet" situation that involved consensual sex with older teenagers. There are degrees of wrongdoing, and the very thin details that Safe Sport reported did lead many to assume the worst.

The family may have a point that reporting slightly more details -- or maybe at least a level of violation? -- would be fairer to the accused. Are we really OK with Romeo and Juliet situations being lumped in with things like forcible rape, child molestation, etc.? Especially if the reporter was a third party ten years after the fact?

I hope none of the above is taken as victim shaming. Even if this is a Romeo and Juliet situation, the victims deserve justice, and the fact that they were on good terms with Coughlin does not preclude them from realizing later on that they may have been violated. I support them 100%, while at the same time think that Coughlin's family is raising some fair questions about the process.
 

Vash01

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Sorry, but are we going to have new threads about this every week or so? 2 previous threads about this have been closed because it's been discussed to death... I think everything has been said about this already in the other 2.

I think it is ok to have this new thread. I had stopped reading the other threads. I feel for his family. I can’t imagine what they must be going through. I understand that they want a full investigation, which they believe would clear their beloved John.

Stopping the investigation because ‘the threat does not exist’ is not a good reason, IMO. This man was smeared with allegations. May be they were correct, maybe they were incorrect, but the truth needs to come out.
 

UGG

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Who would be the "jealous rival" and what exactly would they be jealous of? And this "jealous rival" was in cahoots with 2 minors? Ok.

“SafeSport was used as a weapon,” Laune said. In the highly competitive world of amateur sports, they think the accusation came from a jealous rival whom they refused to name, but whom they believe wanted to conjure the specter of a sexual accusation to hobble Coughlin’s career in coaching and television commentary.

“These accusations,” Laune said, “were made out of malicious intent from someone in the background twisting people’s perception of my brother.”
 

Ena Grins

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They are asking for an investigation. Of course they think he’s innocent. But the truth is that we won’t ever know. Personally I’m not impressed with SafeSports and their system. Like it or not you probably should have enough for an indictment before you get to deprive someone of their livelihood.

No, you shouldn't wait for an indictment, or believing you have enough for an indictment, to act.

In the professional world, the moment an allegation of serious misconduct is made, that person goes on administrative leave while an investigation continues. It's incredibly difficult and stressful for the person the allegation was made against, especially when they're innocent. But it's NECESSARY, because if they aren't innocent, then they have opportunity to continue hurting people. That's not just morally bad but legally bad, because the organization is liable.

This isn't to say SafeSport isn't flawed - it really is, it's just been flawed in the opposite way (dropping well-founded complaints for administrative reasons).

I wish some sort of investigation had continued so his family, friends, and the alleged survivors could have had some sort of answers, though unfortunately, they might not have been found. Sadly, I agree with you that we likely won't ever know the facts.
 

kwanfan1818

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And this "jealous rival" was in cahoots with 2 minors? Ok.
There doesn't have to be any cahoots: neither of the then-cahoots minors had to report. Anyone with knowledge of a relationship from that time could have accused him of an inappropriate relationship and/or grooming.

If the family believes that the original relationship was consensual and legal between peers and that the two other relationships were consensual and, again, "minor" is not specific and is not the relevant age of consent everywhere, possibly legal, plus they thought reporting was by malicious third-parties, then they would not see that there were victims, but an organization with processes that were broken and could be used to destroy inappropriately.

While I disagree with his sisters claim - - "“They never should have posted it (the allegations) publicly without substantiating any of it,” Laune said. - - because the family doesn't know whether the skaters in question or those around them did or did not substantiate the charges, reluctantly or willingly, before his status was upgraded, thought the article was much more focused on SafeSport and the way it functions, most of which have been raised here and in related and unrelated threads.
 

Tinami Amori

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The article backs up several of the rumors I had heard, specifically that:
1. the accusations are not recent and come from a time when Coughlin was a skater
2. the situations were believed to be more "Romeo and Juliet" than Nassar
3. the people involved were, at least until recently, on good terms with Coughlin
4. the complaints may have come from a third-party rather than the skater(s) themselves
I did not read anything on this case outside of FSU's posts and links provided, nor heard/read any rumors (until one yesterday). But i had the same impression on the nature of "events" that are listed in these 4 bullet-points. Anything more "serious" would have been in the hands of police long time ago, or at least now when SS received the data.
 
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TallyT

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It's sad, but it's a hard truth that the family never ever know the whole story, and probably wouldn't/couldn't tell it if they did. We will never know it, because the victims don't have a safe platform to tell their side.
 

Yazmeen

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As a physician, I've spent my entire career surrounded by issues of privacy and confidentiality, including now as a medical writer. I want to state one thing that made me very uncomfortable with this article. While the family didn't come close to naming names, there was enough information there to potentially allow others within the skating world to possibly identify the people who filed complaints against John. I realize the family is in great pain right now; however, stating what they offered in their speculations about the complainants was inappropriate in a public forum.
 

platniumangel

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As a physician, I've spent my entire career surrounded by issues of privacy and confidentiality, including now as a medical writer. I want to state one thing that made me very uncomfortable with this article. While the family didn't come close to naming names, there was enough information there to potentially allow others within the skating world to possibly identify the people who filed complaints against John. I realize the family is in great pain right now; however, stating what they offered in their speculations about the complainants was inappropriate in a public forum.


I don’t see any information that would expose the identity of any complainant.

Also,
The question I have—- does it fall under safesport if the incidents occurred when he wasn’t even a coach yet?
 

Debbie S

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Who would be the "jealous rival" and what exactly would they be jealous of? And this "jealous rival" was in cahoots with 2 minors? Ok.
As kwanfan1818 posted, the minors don't need to be in cahoots with anyone for a complaint to be filed. I have no knowledge of the situation, but I will say that 'report filed by jealous rival' doesn't seem that farfetched to me. Which is not to say that it's true. But it's not outside the realm of possibility. Skating (and probably every other Oly and pro sport) is cutthroat. Even the nicest skaters don't make it to the top w/o pissing someone off, even if by virtue of just being there. Since John is no longer competing, the rival story sounds a bit less plausible, but really, anything could happen. I would hope SafeSport has processes in place to evaluate reports made by a 3rd party in the context of sports culture and to ferret out anything not made in good faith, while at the same time protecting the identity of victims and appropriately addressing any and all violations. But that's a tall order for an understaffed org.
 

Vagabond

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Conveniently ignored in that article is what John Coughlin did with the letter he received. It appears, however, that he chose not to show it to his father and sister or even to make it possible for them to find it. Otherwise, they wouldn't feel the need to ask SafeSport.
 

Tinami Amori

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Conveniently ignored in that article is what John Coughlin did with the letter he received. It appears, however, that he chose not to show it to his father and sister. Otherwise, they wouldn't feel the need to ask SafeSport.
Given how "strongly" he was reacting... he might have crumbled up/torn up the letter and/or burned it, in frustration... Otherwise, it would be somewhere in his apartment afterwards..
 

PDilemma

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I don’t see any information that would expose the identity of any complainant.

Also,
The question I have—- does it fall under safesport if the incidents occurred when he wasn’t even a coach yet?

According to previous rumor and the information his family has, the complaints came from third parties. So there is that.

Nothing has been characterized as criminal behavior, either previously or given the details his family has. I think that is also notable. Every single bit of bad judgement by young people in the context of consensual relationships should not rise to the level of destroying someone's career, livelihood and reputation a decade and a half later. Can questions be asked and amends be made? Absolutely. Should that person need to be accountable particularly if working with young people? Yes. But as has been said by others, this wasn't Larry Nasser.
 

overedge

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Like others, I feel badly for the family and their suffering. From the information in the article, though, it sounds like SafeSport offers some options to help those who are accused, like the right to talk to an investigator any time and to request an arbitration hearing within 72 hours of notification. That's part of due process, so the family claiming that he was denied due process is not really accurate.

I'm curious as to why, if Coughlin felt he was being wrongly accused, he didn't (as far as we know) ask for an immediate hearing or contact an investigator, as SafeSport apparently offered.
 

misskarne

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Frankly, I think this article is nothing short of irresponsible. Of course a grieving family is going to think their son and brother has done nothing wrong. Of course a grieving family could be led to believe that it was a jealous rival. Whoever encouraged the family to speak needs a kick in the shins.

This only serves to reinforce the point that the investigation needs to be finished. And until then, the involved parties need to be left alone.
 

overedge

Mayor of Carrot City
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I don’t see any information that would expose the identity of any complainant.

Also,
The question I have—- does it fall under safesport if the incidents occurred when he wasn’t even a coach yet?

That two of the complainants were minors at the time of the alleged incidents; that he was still in friendly contact with at least one of them; that they were not skaters he was coaching; that the allegations were more around romantic relationships than abuse or harassment; that at least one of the complaints was made by a third party who was concerned about what they saw; that the third party might have personal or professional rivalry with or jealousy against Coughlin.

That sounds like enough information for people inside the skating world to put the pieces together, and at least to have some educated guesses as to who is involved.
 
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BittyBug

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The question I have—- does it fall under safesport if the incidents occurred when he wasn’t even a coach yet?
SafeSport covers all particlpants in the designated sports, including the athletes themselves. It is not a PSA program restricted to coaches.
 

Perky Shae Lynn

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As a physician, I've spent my entire career surrounded by issues of privacy and confidentiality, including now as a medical writer. I want to state one thing that made me very uncomfortable with this article. While the family didn't come close to naming names, there was enough information there to potentially allow others within the skating world to possibly identify the people who filed complaints against John. I realize the family is in great pain right now; however, stating what they offered in their speculations about the complainants was inappropriate in a public forum.
To be honest, there are so many rumors flying around in the skating community as it is... This doesn't change anything.
 

hanca

Values her privacy
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That two of the complainants were minors at the time of the alleged incidents; that he was still in friendly contact with at least one of them; that they were not skaters he was coaching; that the allegations were more around romantic relationships than abuse or harassment; that fat least one of the complaints was made by a third party who was concerned about what they saw.

That sounds like enough information for people inside the skating world to put the pieces together, and at least to have some educated guesses as to who is involved.
The third party was so concerned about the inappropriate relationship that he/she waited for fifteen years to report it? Yes, I can see how much the person was concerned.
 
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