Keeping Track of Criminal Cases & SafeSport Suspensions in Skating

Sylvia

TBD
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ESPN article on Brendan Kerry by Dan Murphy and Pete Madden (May 14):
ETA 2 excerpts pertaining to Gold:
Gold first publicly shared details of an alleged assault in her recently published memoir. She wrote that she remembers being assaulted after a party in a hotel room in California in 2016. Gold did not name Kerry in the book, but told ESPN that he was the skater she described. She wrote that he "forced himself" upon her despite her objections after they both had been drinking.
According to SafeSport's report, however, "insufficient evidence is available to determine if, on or about December 2016, in California, ...
Her book did not mention California or which month in 2016 (most likely due to legal reasons).
SafeSport only has jurisdiction to pursue investigations involving active members of a U.S.-based national governing body. It's not clear if Kerry was a U.S. Figure Skating member in 2017. According to the report obtained by ESPN, Kerry was a member when SafeSport received an additional incident report about him in March 2020.
"I feel a myriad of emotions," Gold told ESPN on Tuesday, "Part of me is relieved that his name is finally out there, part of me feels some frustration that it took this long for action to be taken."
 
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kosjenka

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Gracie gave several clues in her book.
in later chapter she referenced Cipres case without naming it as the similarity with hers was that both were not US skaters, had reports against them and have left the US. Cipres case was more prominent as there was media reporting and a police case made so it colerated her situation.
 

Milan

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This is truly awful. I don't think the announcement of this has been handled very tactfully however. It appears to have come as a surprise. Apparently Australian skating associations were totally affronted and were only aware over the past day or so. Brendan was still coaching I believe. The ruling is still subject to appeal (i.e. it's not final) so is it right to be named and shamed when the case is still to be finalized? Also considering that he is a current coach, the welfare of current skaters does not appear to be a consideration in the administrative handling of this ruling (and I do not mean to reduce in any way the harm the victims would have gone through and have in fact undergone).
 
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Trillian

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The ban is effect now. That means the skating world had to be made aware of it now. There was no way they could wait until after an appeal.

Correct. On top of that, frankly, a lot of skating fans who don’t have ties to any of these organizations realized that Kerry was the subject of this accusation months ago. He himself certainly knew about the investigation. Skating is a small world and there is no way plenty of people were not already aware of this, including within the Australian skating establishment.
 

Theatregirl1122

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Also considering that he is a current coach, the welfare of current skaters does not appear to be a consideration in the administrative handling of this ruling (and I do not mean to reduce in any way the harm the victims would have gone through and have in fact undergone).

How would you expect a US organization to handle the welfare of current skaters outside their jurisdiction?
 

Trillian

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How would you expect a US organization to handle the welfare of current skaters outside their jurisdiction?

Right. At this point that responsibility belongs to the governing bodies in the country where he is currently coaching. If they want to pretend no one in a position of power had any idea these accusations were making the rounds, even though a bunch of us who have no direct access to insider gossip figured it out, even though one of those people in power is literally his mom: sure. Okay. Let’s pretend there’s any chance they were blindsided.

But they are aware now. Whatever does or does not happen in terms of protecting skaters going forward will depend on how the ISA and other organizations in Australia respond.
 

Prancer

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The ruling is still subject to appeal (i.e. it's not final) so is it right to be named and shamed when the case is still to be finalized?
Can you think of an example where decisions have not been made public because there was a possibility of appeal?

At what point would it be appropriate to make this announcement public if Kerry doesn't appeal?
 

Aussie Willy

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ISA were only made aware of this at the same time that the ban was announced. They were unaware like most of us in Australia were.

As the situation was being assessed by Safe Sport in the US, regardless of the various assumptions about "who knew what" or "who should have told who", it was probably not appropriate for anything to be said until Safe Sport released their decision. And now going forward it will have to be dealt with by the sporting organisations, including ISA and APSA.

ETA - just saw an article behind a paywall that said he has been stood down from coaching for the time being while appealing the decision.
 
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Sylvia

TBD
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Australian Associated Press article by Steve Larkin in The Advocate (May 15) that cites the ESPN article:
Kerry says he's innocent.
"After hearing nothing from the US Center for SafeSport for almost three years ... I received their decision with no advance warning whatsoever, sanctioning me for alleged violations that I did not commit," Kerry said in a statement.
"That decision is not final and I intend to challenge this suspension and request arbitration before a neutral arbitrator as is my right."
Kerry's ban only applies in the US where SafeSport has jurisdiction but he has stood down from coaching at Sydney's Macquarie Ice Rink by mutual agreement with Australian figure skating authorities.
The Australian Professional Skaters' Association said it would perform its own investigation.
The association's president and Kerry's mother, Monica MacDonald, has also stood down from her position pending the investigation.
 
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Trillian

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Weird that he’s going for the “I didn’t do it” defense. The ESPN article says that he admitted during the SafeSport investigation that he had engaged in sexual activity with a minor but wasn’t aware she was too young to consent. In the U.S., at least, I think it’s pretty well-established that being unaware of either the law or the age of your partner is not a defense for statutory rape charges. Does SafeSport have a different standard? If not, it might be hard for him to argue that he didn’t have sex with a 17-year-old when he apparently already told them he had sex with a 17-year-old.
 

Bunny Hop

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If not, it might be hard for him to argue that he didn’t have sex with a 17-year-old when he apparently already told them he had sex with a 17-year-old.
To be crystal clear before I respond to the above point, from what has been said in the articles it's clear assault has taken place, and as already stated above ignorance of the law is no excuse. The pedant in me feels obligated to point out, however, that it may be literally true that he wasn’t aware she was too young to consent because age of consent in Australia is 16 not 18. That is not and should not be a mitigating factor by any stretch, and I am definitely not offering this as defence. The victim has stated there she did not consent, thus making that factor even more irrelevant.
 

Willin

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Weird that he’s going for the “I didn’t do it” defense. The ESPN article says that he admitted during the SafeSport investigation that he had engaged in sexual activity with a minor but wasn’t aware she was too young to consent. In the U.S., at least, I think it’s pretty well-established that being unaware of either the law or the age of your partner is not a defense for statutory rape charges. Does SafeSport have a different standard? If not, it might be hard for him to argue that he didn’t have sex with a 17-year-old when he apparently already told them he had sex with a 17-year-old.
It was easier to go with the "he said, she said" or "I thought she consented" defense with Gracie because parties and alcohol make things harder to prove - witnesses may be unreliable because they were drinking, the parties involved were drinking, lighting may be poor, etc. It's such a common defense in party cases that California has a "yes means yes" law.

As for him not knowing age of consent, as @Bunny Hop pointed out, he may not have been aware. I'm not sure what line SafeSport draws (if age of consent is always 18 for them), but age of consent varies from country to country and state to state. In the US it's the safest to just go with 18, but every state has different ages of consent, different exceptions (Romeo and Juliet laws), and different punishments. It's far from an excuse - especially when turning 18 is such a cultural touchstone for this issue that it's a common joke, celeb gossip topic, adult entertainment trope, movie/TV plot point, and even mentioned in music. But it would explain him trying to make that excuse.
 

leilaofpaper

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To be crystal clear before I respond to the above point, from what has been said in the articles it's clear assault has taken place, and as already stated above ignorance of the law is no excuse. The pedant in me feels obligated to point out, however, that it may be literally true that he wasn’t aware she was too young to consent because age of consent in Australia is 16 not 18. That is not and should not be a mitigating factor by any stretch, and I am definitely not offering this as defence. The victim has stated there she did not consent, thus making that factor even more irrelevant.
Gracie is not the minor in question.
 

kwanfan1818

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What would be the scope of an investigation in Australia, if no one there has come forward with a complaint? Would they be able to investigate something that happened in the US?
 

Milan

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At what point would it be appropriate to make this announcement public if Kerry doesn't appeal?

My understanding is that there is a finite time period for appeal and arbitration, so I would think a more appropriate time is when these avenues are exhausted and the investigation is truly closed out.
 

Bunny Hop

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Gracie is not the minor in question.
I was referencing the commentary around the minor, not around Gracie.
What would be the scope of an investigation in Australia, if no one there has come forward with a complaint? Would they be able to investigate something that happened in the US?
I don't know the answer, but presumably they can only take any information provided by SafeSport and use that as a basis to determine whether reciprocal action is required within this territory. I don't believe there's an equivalent of SafeSport here (happy to be corrected on that point if I'm wrong) so even if a local complainant came forward then not sure what the process would be outside of making a formal complaint to the police.
 

skatfan

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My understanding is that there is a finite time period for appeal and arbitration, so I would think a more appropriate time is when these avenues are exhausted and the investigation is truly closed out.
The investigation is closed and the verdict decided. Someone who is convicted of a crime doesn’t have that verdict not read because an appeal can happen.
 

Aussie Willy

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I was referencing the commentary around the minor, not around Gracie.

I don't know the answer, but presumably they can only take any information provided by SafeSport and use that as a basis to determine whether reciprocal action is required within this territory. I don't believe there's an equivalent of SafeSport here (happy to be corrected on that point if I'm wrong) so even if a local complainant came forward then not sure what the process would be outside of making a formal complaint to the police.
Australia falls under the National Integrity Framework which covers all sporting organisations in Australia. ISA has signed up to the framework and has policies in line with this. I can tell you this is taken very seriously.


It is worth reading the home page of the website, particularly why the framework was developed. It was actually prompted by the US gymnastics case.

Someone asked about an investigation in Australia in relation to this. I daresay there would be no investigation here but the various organisations would take on board any decision that happens in the US given the seriousness of the case.
 
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Tangoer

Member
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I was referencing the commentary around the minor, not around Gracie.

I don't know the answer, but presumably they can only take any information provided by SafeSport and use that as a basis to determine whether reciprocal action is required within this territory. I don't believe there's an equivalent of SafeSport here (happy to be corrected on that point if I'm wrong) so even if a local complainant came forward then not sure what the process would be outside of making a formal complaint to the police.

They can launch their own but whether the victims want to participate or not is a different question.
 

Tangoer

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The investigation is closed and the verdict decided. Someone who is convicted of a crime doesn’t have that verdict not read because an appeal can happen.

This plus SafeSport sometimes suspends while investigating even (eg John Coughlin) to protect athletes. If the evidence is strong enough they must take action or are held accountable for any crimes committed that they could have prevented.
 

Trillian

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As for him not knowing age of consent, as @Bunny Hop pointed out, he may not have been aware. I'm not sure what line SafeSport draws (if age of consent is always 18 for them), but age of consent varies from country to country and state to state. In the US it's the safest to just go with 18, but every state has different ages of consent, different exceptions (Romeo and Juliet laws), and different punishments. It's far from an excuse - especially when turning 18 is such a cultural touchstone for this issue that it's a common joke, celeb gossip topic, adult entertainment trope, movie/TV plot point, and even mentioned in music. But it would explain him trying to make that excuse.

This is true, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if he was unaware of the age of consent laws. However, odds are pretty good this happened in California, where AFAIK the age of consent really is a hard 18 with no exceptions. The ESPN article also mentioned the police were involved at one point, which likely wouldn’t have been the case otherwise. I think I’ve heard that SafeSport uses 18 as the standard also.

To be clear, I believe the victims who say there was more than just misunderstanding of the age of consent involved. But even if they can’t “prove” the rest of it, it sure sounds like he’s already admitted to doing at least one thing wrong and probably illegal.
 

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