Olympic governing body 'knows the truth' behind late figure skater's alleged sexual abuse

MsZem

Well-Known Member
Messages
17,434
A gentle reminder: This thread was started to discuss allegations of sexual abuse of minors, not suicides of adult men.
It's still important to discuss suicide carefully and with sensitivity towards those affected by it.

There are FSUers who have lost loved ones to suicide, and members of this community who have died by suicide. People reading this thread may be more vulnerable than some of us realize. We can be compassionate to both victims of sexual assault and people struggling with mental health issues.
 

Vera Costa

Well-Known Member
Messages
100
Finally, losing a child is one of the hardest things a family will go through. Losing a child to suicide, many parents will say, makes the pain all that much worse. I'd weigh what the family is saying right now, how they are saying it, in light of that pain.

I have sympathy for the pain Coughlin's family are feeling.

But by defending him and claiming that his potential victims are lying, they are hurting not only said victims but any other people who wish to come forward with their stories, either in this particular case or any other.

Grief allows for sympathy but it isn't a pass for hurting others.

How we talk about suicide matters and I'm in no way diminishing the effects of mental health on suicide. How we talk about victims of abuse also matters, lest we risk silencing them.
 

Vagabond

Well-Known Member
Messages
21,870
It's still important to discuss suicide carefully and with sensitivity towards those affected by it.

There are FSUers who have lost loved ones to suicide, and members of this community who have died by suicide. People reading this thread may be more vulnerable than some of us realize. We can be compassionate to both victims of sexual assault and people struggling with mental health issues.
:wall:

Another gentle reminder:
Perhaps people don't understand this, but when I say don't post speculation, I mean don't post speculation about anyone.
The implication that John Coughlin was struggling with mental health issues is sheer speculation.
 

kwanfan1818

RIP D-10
Messages
35,450
In the Kansas City Star article, at least one person, his friend Geoff Varner, was in daily contact and concerned enough to ask Coughlin "to call him immediately if it all seemed too overwhelming, and and he was thinking of 'doing anything stupid.'". That was, Varner thought, an hour before his suicide.

https://www.kansascity.com/news/loc...-5opDOED0W5cSwxQKCJ8C5rKOiSr6A1k9rSYo9lnDpp8M

He may have been able to put up a strong front for his family, but at least one friend was not convinced.

People also have periods of mental health issues in the face if catastrophic events, which is why there are different types of short term therapies used for crisis counseling, both individual and for groups.
 

dee342

Member
Messages
60
This is true. None of us know what was going on his head--or anyone else's.

And we have been down all these paths before.

Does anyone have anything else to say about the lawyer's statement?

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Denial, ignorance and malice? There is the opening statement for his first Motion.
 

MsZem

Well-Known Member
Messages
17,434

:wall: to you as well. I thought it was pretty clear that Jozet and others in this thread were suggesting a careful and compassionate discourse as it relates to suicide and those affected by it more generally. John Coughlin is obviously not in need of anyone's compassion at this point.

Does anyone have anything else to say about the lawyer's statement?
I do not.
 

okokok777

Well-Known Member
Messages
125
Does anyone have anything else to say about the lawyer's statement?

I posted this in another forum but I feel like this is important for the discussion:

This is not the first time the lawyer (John Manly of Manly, Stewart and Finaldi) or his legal partners has taken on the USFSA. He represents Craig Maurizi (whose accusations of sexual abuse against Richard Callaghan were dismissed by the USFSA without further investigation in 1999 due to his failure to report within a 60 day window).

His legal partner, Vince Finaldi, represents an anonymous figure skater and survivor of Don Vincent (a former figure skating coach who was sentenced to 98 years to life in prison for sexually molesting two of his students - one of which was the 11 year old plaintiff). In regards to this case, Finaldi stated: “The U.S. Figure Skating Association and the ice rinks where Vincent worked ignored complaints against him for years. If they had done their legal duty years ago and reported Vincent to the police, our client and other children could have been protected from this monster.” The family of the second victim (an anonymous female skater who was 9 at the onset of the abuse) also sued the USFSA for failing to fulfill their legal duty.

I've also personally worked on a number of sexual abuse cases within figure skating (mostly between coaches and students but also quite a few cases within pairs). There is a pattern of abuse. SafeSport is aware of it and certain people within the USFSA are aware of it. I would go into more but it will probably end up in a rant.

*I believe that the cases are ongoing but I'm not 100% sure. If not, just imagine that I wrote "formerly represented".

Craig Maurizi Case: Source
Don Vincent Case: Source 1 and Source 2
 

VGThuy

Well-Known Member
Messages
38,219
So it seems like when statements are made about USFS having a culture that fosters this sort of abuse, it may be coming from people with experience with previous cases from years ago or those who simply read about past USFS policy and how they self-policed themselves (or failed to do so) in the past that resulted in what some perceive as a failure to deal with situations properly.
 

gkelly

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,996
I think that USFS policies and approaches to these issues have changed a lot in the past decade or so and especially in the past couple years.

But there will still be old situations now being brought to light, and new ones that will need to be dealt with as they arise.
 

2sk8

Active Member
Messages
877
I posted this in another forum but I feel like this is important for the discussion:

This is not the first time the lawyer (John Manly of Manly, Stewart and Finaldi) or his legal partners has taken on the USFSA. He represents Craig Maurizi (whose accusations of sexual abuse against Richard Callaghan were dismissed by the USFSA without further investigation in 1999 due to his failure to report within a 60 day window).
...
*I believe that the cases are ongoing but I'm not 100% sure. If not, just imagine that I wrote "formerly represented".

Craig Maurizi Case: Source
Don Vincent Case: Source 1 and Source 2

I hadn't realized this attorney represented Maurizi - that could make it a bit more challenging for Coughlin's agent, Tara Modlin Maurizi, to have replied to Manly's statements for Brennan's story!
 

RoseRed

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,031
I hadn't realized this attorney represented Maurizi - that could make it a bit more challenging for Coughlin's agent, Tara Modlin Maurizi, to have replied to Manly's statements for Brennan's story!
Didn't Maurizi defend Coughlin when this first came out? Or something like that. It surprised me that that was his first response.
 

okokok777

Well-Known Member
Messages
125
So it seems like when statements are made about USFS having a culture that fosters this sort of abuse, it may be coming from people with experience with previous cases from years ago or those who simply read about past USFS policy and how they self-policed themselves (or failed to do so) in the past that resulted in what some perceive as a failure to deal with situations properly.

I think it's a combination of issues.

The USFS (along with other NGBs within the USOC) had some frankly awful policies for a very long time. The policies have drastically improved (especially with the establishment of SafeSport's current iteration in 2017). Unfortunately, implementing those policies has been much more difficult.

In all cases involving suspicions or allegations of child physical or sexual abuse, every employee or volunteer of the U.S. Figure Skating Membership Program must also report to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. There are a number of cases in which mandated reporters (including USFS officials) are made aware of suspicions/allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor yet the reports are not relayed to the police. For example:

According to the female victim's mother, Don Vincent (who was arrested in 2013 and convicted in 2014) was actually dropped by his rink in December of 2011 after several documented complaints were filed against him due to his inappropriate behavior with minors. However, the rink manager never informed any of Vincent's former students or their families about the reasons behind his removal (Source).

TLDR The "culture that fosters abuse" statement applies to the past and present.

I hadn't realized this attorney represented Maurizi - that could make it a bit more challenging for Coughlin's agent, Tara Modlin Maurizi, to have replied to Manly's statements for Brennan's story!

Didn't Maurizi defend Coughlin when this first came out? Or something like that. It surprised me that that was his first response.

“It’s such mixed emotions and mixed feelings, given the situation with my friend who felt he didn’t have due process and was not given an opportunity to voice his side,” Maurizi said of Coughlin (Source).

I'm not surprised by his reaction.

I might end up writing a blog post or uploading a YouTube video about SafeSport, the handling of JC's case and abuse culture in figure skating in the near future if anyone is interested if my super long ramblings LOL.
 

Moustaffask8r

Well-Known Member
Messages
764
The lawsuit would not be over how the investigation was handled, but over whether or not the USFS fulfilled its responsibility for protecting the alleged victims during the years the alleged misconduct was taking place.
Got it!
I was wondering also because they’re seem to be a delay between the time someone report - goes to Safesport- assign to investigator- investigation and then some real accusations is mesure se taken. It seem that this can take a lot of time... so do anyone knows what happens during that period. It sure I understand the process very well ???
 

Artistic Skaters

Drawing Figures
Messages
8,135
His legal partner, Vince Finaldi, represents an anonymous figure skater and survivor of Don Vincent (a former figure skating coach who was sentenced to 98 years to life in prison for sexually molesting two of his students - one of which was the 11 year old plaintiff). In regards to this case, Finaldi stated: “The U.S. Figure Skating Association and the ice rinks where Vincent worked ignored complaints against him for years. If they had done their legal duty years ago and reported Vincent to the police, our client and other children could have been protected from this monster.” The family of the second victim (an anonymous female skater who was 9 at the onset of the abuse) also sued the USFSA for failing to fulfill their legal duty.
This case to me is one of the textbook examples of what was discussed in the previous thread as the culture in figure skating that allowed abuse to go on unchecked for too long. The coach apparently was finally arrested because USFSA did follow up when one of the victims told someone about the abuse during a skating camp, however, they shouldn't take too much credit for it because things were overlooked so long at the frontlines for years that allowed Vincent to slip through the cracks and abuse children.

There are several common practices from this case that were found in other cases of abuse or neglect. A coach without the education or credentials taking charge for homeschooling children, and/or demanding parents modify/adapt educational requirements to accommodate the coach's scheduling needs. Minor children (unchaperoned) living or staying with a coach, often under the guise of convenience. Complaints made about the coach not fully investigated or shared with affiliated organizations or rinks, and it is as much due to negligence as threat of legal action or other reasons. In the Vincent case, the coach was discovered in a physically compromising position with a young student in a dark room at the rink. When his teaching credentials were finally revoked at that rink, he still had privileges at numerous other rinks (six or seven). Another practice frequently used by these coaches is the relocation to new geographic areas and rinks every few years due to lax follow up regarding background and reference checks, and/or sponsorship by former students or colleagues (who knowingly or unknowingly endorse them). Over the years, it's been made easy for them to move on from place to place.

Because of things like these (among others) and considering Vincent got more than a lifetime sentence for his crimes, the statements made by USFSA in reference to this case have been sorely lacking and certainly have not conveyed the empathy or awareness needed to face these problems head-on.
 
Last edited:

overedge

Mayor of Carrot City
Messages
33,006
Got it!
I was wondering also because they’re seem to be a delay between the time someone report - goes to Safesport- assign to investigator- investigation and then some real accusations is mesure se taken. It seem that this can take a lot of time... so do anyone knows what happens during that period. It sure I understand the process very well ???

It may take a lot of time because it's important to do a full investigation. That can mean talking to the people involved in the events or witnesses to the events - that includes setting up the interviews, conducting the interviews, transcribing them, and analyzing their statements. There may be interviews after that to follow up on information that came out in the first round of interviews. Other information might have to be gathered, too, like visiting the sites where the event(s) happened, or looking at photos or videos.

Then once all that information has been collected, the investigator has to put it all together into a report. If there is a lot of information it can take a lot of time to organize it and then to write the report on the findings. Then (if I understand the process) the report goes to SafeSport to make a decision.

This can take quite a long time, but on the other hand, if the process was rushed and important information wasn't collected because there wasn't enough time to get it, that wouldn't be fair to either the complainant or the accused.
 
Messages
10
This case to me is one of the textbook examples of what was discussed in the previous thread as the culture in figure skating that allowed abuse to go on unchecked for too long. The coach apparently was finally arrested because USFSA did follow up when one of the victims told someone about the abuse during a skating camp, however, they shouldn't take too much credit for it because things were overlooked so long at the frontlines for years that allowed Vincent to slip through the cracks and abuse children.

I remember that Vincent was arrested when the victimized boy finally contacted the authorities after he came back from a retreat with his church (he told his church friends what had been going on, and they helped him contact the authorities)...not a skating camp. I don't remember that USFSA played a role in Vincent's arrest, correct me if I'm wrong.
 

Japanfan

Well-Known Member
Messages
25,177
In journalism, the reporter is supposed to present the facts in an unbiased way. If a writer has an agenda, they should not hold themselves out as objective reporters.

Yes, but as a previously journalist, I can tell you that it is pretty much impossible not to influenced by biases. All you can do is try and minimize them.

They can write opinion pieces that make clear their purpose. Christine Brennan is clearly outraged that more isn't being done at the top levels to investigate sexual abuse in sports. That is all good, but she is supposed to leave her outrage at the door when she reports the facts (or the non-facts).

IDK. This is a pretty emotionally charged story with considerable implications. I don't think it is entirely inappropriate for Brennan to express outrage.
 

judiz

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,314
I dare say that had Christine Brennen wrote the same story, but it was about the strange neighbor down the street or the store owner in the mall, people would be praising the reporting and demanding justice for the victims.
 

okokok777

Well-Known Member
Messages
125
Entire post.

I remember that Vincent was arrested when the victimized boy finally contacted the authorities after he came back from a retreat with his church (he told his church friends what had been going on, and they helped him contact the authorities)...not a skating camp. I don't remember that USFSA played a role in Vincent's arrest, correct me if I'm wrong.

Thank you @Artistic Skaters for your informative and enlightening summary. You brought up several excellent points explaining the complexity of abuse culture within skating.

I think @bellezza_fiore is right about the male victim. In December 2012, the then 17 year old male victim told a friend at a "youth camp" (I can't recall if it was a church camp or sleep-away camp, but I'm almost positive that it was unrelated to skating) about the abuse. His friend then encouraged him to report the incident and the male survivor reported the abuse to police investigators at the the Los Angeles County Special Victims Unit. Vincent was then arrested and the police investigators reached out to parents of Vincent's former students - which eventually led to their discovery of a second victim.

The USFS and PSA filed grievances with Vincent in January of 2013 - after his January 11 arrest.

Source
 

overedge

Mayor of Carrot City
Messages
33,006
Quote from the story linked by @clairecloutier:

USOC spokesperson Mark Jones said in an email that the organization, which founded and funds SafeSport, is “absolutely committed to changing the culture of elite sports in the United States"

The reference to "elite" sports is very troubling. Abuse can take place at *any* level of sport. The USOC should be concerned with what happens at any level of any of the Olympic sports, not just at the elite level.
 

gkelly

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,996
Part of the problem with changing the culture in figure skating with regard to this kind of behavior is that it tends to happen at a local level. And what happens at training rinks, or away from the rink between skaters or between coaches and skater who met there, is very decentralized.

The culture of one rink might be very different from the culture at another. How many elite skaters train there is one factor among several that might contribute to differences.

There's no central oversight or body of rules about day-to-day training.

There's no standard relationship between rink management and USFS as an organization. There are varying relationships between local clubs and USFS and between local clubs and their local rinks.

In recent years USFS has instituted stricter rules about what can happen at USFS-sanctioned events or USFS club events and who needs to pass background checks and pass SafeSport training to know when to report suspicions to local authorities, and making it clearer what kind of behavior will be subject to suspensions and lifetime bans.

But they can only act if something is reported to them. And if individuals who experience or witness abusive behavior feel empowered to speak up at the time or after the fact.

How best can the culture at local rinks, whether focused on elite training or casual recreation or anything in between and mixtures thereof, be changed to discourage abusive behavior and encourage empowered resistance to it?
 

skatfan

Well-Known Member
Messages
6,710

BittyBug

Disgusted
Messages
24,744
@gkelly, yes the day-to-day of figure skating in the US is very decentralized, but USFS could still play an oversight / educational role. For example, they could:
  • Create an online training course with quiz and require every member to complete this as part of the annual renewal process
  • Create a more in-depth training and quiz (to confirm understanding) and require it of anyone serving on the board of member clubs
  • Create a more in-depth training and quiz and require all coaches to complete this educational model as part of their annual certification
  • Partner with PSA to push vigilance by coaches (since they would typically be in the best position to spot potential issues)
  • Prominently promote SafeSport information through their web site and social media accounts
  • Include tips for recognizing grooming and unethical behavior in their member pamphlets (Basic Skills, etc.)
  • Host a mandatory session on grooming and unethical behavior (how to spot, reporting process and obligations, etc.) at each Governing Council
That's just a few thoughts.
 

Tinami Amori

Well-Known Member
Messages
20,157
  • Include tips for recognizing grooming and unethical behavior in their member pamphlets (Basic Skills, etc.)
  • Host a mandatory session on grooming and unethical behavior (how to spot, reporting process and obligations, etc.) at each Governing Council
I liked all your points, except these two. This is so subjective, in terms of one's temperament, personality, culture, upbringing, sense of personal space/privacy... There are coaches who are naturally give you hugs, friendly, helpful, offer rides home, buy you snacks, fuss over you, try to fix your hair, socialize with your parents outside of the rink... I can easily see someone "with different mentality" thinking its "grooming".... And the 2nd one in general promotes "snitching"..
 

gkelly

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,996
@gkelly, yes the day-to-day of figure skating in the US is very decentralized, but USFS could still play an oversight / educational role. For example, they could:
  • Create an online training course with quiz and require every member to complete this as part of the annual renewal process
How does that apply to members who are, say, 6 years old? Requirements would need to be developmentally appropriate for different age groups and involve parent participation to various extents as skaters mature. And also probably to be framed more as What can USFS do to make you feel welcome and safe, rather than as a hoop members need to jump through before they can join a club and sign up for the Pre-Preliminary test or No Test competition.
  • Create a more in-depth training and quiz (to confirm understanding) and require it of anyone serving on the board of member clubs
  • Create a more in-depth training and quiz and require all coaches to complete this educational model as part of their annual certification

These are now required, as well as for officials and for over-18 pair and dance partners. But some of these requirements are new, so the effect they will have on local rink cultures will take some time to become evident.

And meanwhile, there may be more reports of past offenses that people are only now feeling empowered to speak up about.
 

BittyBug

Disgusted
Messages
24,744
Requirements would need to be developmentally appropriate for different age groups and involve parent participation to various extents as skaters mature.
I agree. I just think that awareness is key and considering how difficult it is to capture people's attention, requiring some type of review in exchange for something they want (to be or continue to be USFS members) could be an access point.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top
Do Not Sell My Personal Information