SafeSport alleges "culture of grooming and abuse" in U.S. figure skating

Tinami Amori

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Yes. But haven't you derailed the thread enough already? Or are we about to be treated to a long treatise on the completely irrelevant subject of cultural norms as represented by fairy tales with multiple demands for explanations for how such movies can be popular when there are such rules in skating? :drama:
We don't have to... but i am going to laugh very hard next time "B & B" theme used on ice..... especially by Disney.. :D
 
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I thought SS reported to the USOC and got its funding from the USOC and that each sport gave money to the USOC so that a particular organization (say USFS) wasn't funding SS directly. Am I wrong about this?
There are three things I can find on the SS site:

From About/What we do -- Response & Resolution:
The U.S. Olympic Committee entrusted the Center with the authority to respond to reports of sexual misconduct with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements involving sexual misconduct. Our team carries out this important work professionally, emphasizing responsiveness, fairness and confidentiality. The Center’s confidential online system is the preferred method for making a report, though individuals can also contact our staff—we are here for you.
From the bottom of the main page, the current list of supporters is:
  • USOC
  • USOC Paralympics
  • NBC Sports Group
  • NBA
  • WNBA
  • ESPN
The one I'd be worried about is the NBC Sports Group, which has a vested interest in TV viewership in the US for the Olympics.

From the Donate page, they're a 501 (c) (3), so individuals can donate, unless they are somehow restricted.
 

Birdseye

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I actually would argue that is completely within the purview of safesport and any other governing body to concern itself with any adult coach, student relationship regardless of the age of the student. It would be similar to any other job. If I as a superior engage in a consensual relationship with my employee or with a client, my company would likely have a lot to say about it. Now USFSA or Skate Canada in the case of Bruno and Meagan, may have policies in place which allow an investigation to determine that the relationship is ok, given additional informations which ensure that all parties are consenting and any conflicts of interest are handled appropriately.
 

wickedwitch

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Does anyone know of any examples of SafeSport investigating a consensual relationship between a coach and their adult student?

Also, I assume choreographers would be seen as "coaches" by SafeSport. Is that correct?
 

LarrySK8

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TBH - the entire idea of an organization such as SafeSport is stupid.

Instead of creating a nebulous regulatory body over all USOC sports, the USOC should have mandatory policies each sport under its umbrella must adopt in order to keep its status as an Olympic sport, i.e. ACTUAL CHANGE.

What appears to have happened is that alleged or self-described or actual victims in multiple different sports feel shafted by their sports, as in the gymnastics and swimming scandals - and are trying to create a panacea - SafeSport.

The solution is not to be that easy, and SafeSport is a joke, using essentially veiled charges, ambiguous innuendo and spreading fear in a lame attempt to "help."

Nonsense.
 

mollymgr

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Does anyone know of any examples of SafeSport investigating a consensual relationship between a coach and their adult student?

Also, I assume choreographers would be seen as "coaches" by SafeSport. Is that correct?
I didn't see anything for Figure Skating but USA Basketball gives a bit more detail one what's considered acceptable.
https://www.usab.com/about/online-forms-and-apps/usa-basketball-safesport-handbook.aspx

Romantic or sexual relationships, which began during the sport relationship, between athletes or other USA Basketball participants and those individuals (i) with direct supervisory or evaluative control, or (ii) who are in a position of power and trust over the athlete or participant, also constitute prohibited sexual misconduct. Except in circumstances where no imbalance of power exists, coaches have this direct supervisory or evaluative control and are in a position of power and trust over those athletes or participants they coach. The prohibition on romantic or sexual relationships does not include those relationships where it can be demonstrated that there is no imbalance of power. For example, this prohibition does not apply to a pre-existing relationship between two spouses or life partners.
 

chantilly

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But aren’t coaches hired by the skaters and/or their federation.
Don’t they then have power in the relationship too?

I’m only talking about consensual relationships between an adult student and a their coach.
 

overedge

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Instead of creating a nebulous regulatory body over all USOC sports, the USOC should have mandatory policies each sport under its umbrella must adopt in order to keep its status as an Olympic sport, i.e. ACTUAL CHANGE.
AFAIK most of the federations have such policies, and had them before SafeSport was created. But the policies didn't work. And as we saw with USA Gymnastics (and e.g. with the earlier complaints to USFS about Callaghan) the federations are not very effective at investigating or stopping problems within their own ranks. If they can't or won't do it themselves, there needs to be a third party that can step in and try to ensure that what needs to happen is going to happen.

What appears to have happened is that alleged or self-described or actual victims in multiple different sports feel shafted by their sports, as in the gymnastics and swimming scandals - and are trying to create a panacea - SafeSport.

The solution is not to be that easy, and SafeSport is a joke, using essentially veiled charges, ambiguous innuendo and spreading fear in a lame attempt to "help."

Nonsense.
Speaking of nonsense, why don't you read up on this stuff before posting such drivel. It's not the "victims" that pushed for SafeSport to happen. If anything it was the federations trying to cover their own butts and look like they wanted to do something constructive.
 

mollymgr

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But aren’t coaches hired by the skaters and/or their federation.
Don’t they then have power in the relationship too?

I’m only talking about consensual relationships between an adult student and a their coach.
From most of the literature out there from various NGBs, a coach/athlete relationship is strongly discouraged. Here is another example which lists why.
http://content.themat.com/USAW-SafeSportPolicy-April2017.pdf

I found the USOC Athlete Safety Policy which gives a little more detail about how an investigation occurs.
https://www.teamusa.org/Team-USA-Athlete-Services/Safe-Sport

https://www.teamusa.org/-/media/Tea...hash=9AE5F7ED4F1E531F44E643454329EA9C95C47A38
 

Artistic Skaters

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What is meant by "Culture of grooming and abuse"? And why is it applied here?

Culture implies that it is everywhere all the time. It does not seem like the right descriptor.

Term. I assume the vast majority of skater interactions are fine.
SafeSport said there is “a culture in figure skating that allowed grooming and abuse to go unchecked for too long."
This area really interests me and I hope we can discuss it further without all the extraneous material we've had to wade through in previous pages. This is not something new that has just started because of Larry Nasser, as some have suggested while they downplay the history. There is plenty of information available to document longstanding and serious problems. It shows a lot of the breakdowns in the policies and systems that have contributed to an environment allowing abuse to occur at the frontline level. There are many areas to discuss, like general business practices.

I agree the majority of skater interactions are fine. Most coaches have good intentions and rink personnel want satisfied customers, but this doesn't prevent bad things from happening as well. Thirty years ago the coaching profession was like a walk through the wild wild west. Anyone could buy liability insurance for a few dollars a year, print some cheap business cards, become a coach and do whatever they wanted, often with complete control over their career destiny. Since coaches are rainmakers, things were overly focused on what they wanted rather than what skaters needed. Nepotism, "skating schools" run like pyramid schemes, and other normally discouraged practices became business as usual at a lot of rinks. People who want to pursue bad acts flourish in places with little oversight and limited expectations, and this type of business model would fit as part of the culture described by SafeSport.

As skaters and parents became more open about some of the issues now covered by SafeSport, I give credit to the municipal rinks because in my experience they were much more likely than USFSA to address them in a forward thinking manner. Perhaps it's because they operate with open planning commissions at the local city or county level and have to answer to taxpayers and not just their own closed membership. Over the years, it seems like it was the municipal rinks (not all but a lot of them) that started initiating new procedures for coaches like requiring reference checks and law enforcement reports, restrictions on fees based on credentials, etc. They had reporting requirements for rink personnel, kept incident logs and implemented additional leadership training. Complaints were still falling through the cracks at USFSA and private rinks during this time, so it is another example of the cultural disparity.

Now with the way things have evolved, the expectations of professionalism for coaches have been redefined with more focus on the needs of skaters. Coaches, just like other skating representatives, now need to actively participate in the processes needed to maintain a safe environment for all skaters. A lot of the old school coaches may not like it because they were used to free rein and entitlements. But I don't see why any coaches should be exempt from taking steps and cooperating to prevent liability issues for an organization when they are being given consideration in the form of teaching privileges. It's really not too much to ask coaches (some who bill $120 hour for lessons) to at least be held to the same standards expected of club volunteers or USFS officials who work for free.

The new guidelines mean all professionals, volunteers, rink personnel, etc. have to make a conscious effort to modify work practices and behavior to help prevent the abuse of athletes, even when they are not the ones causing the problems and it might cause them some discomfort. Is it worth all the modifications to prevent the abuse of two skaters at this rink and five at that one, even if many rinks don't experience incidents that cause problems for skaters? I think so, because using a standardized process takes a community wide approach that covers migration between rinks, or to competitions and other events. Protection and prevention are always going to be better goals than a threshold of acceptability.
 

overedge

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And to follow up on @Artistic Skaters insights, at some points in this process of evolution there were more stringent requirements for skating club volunteers - e.g. passing criminal record checks - than there were for coaches. That was just wrong.

At some rinks the coaches are independent contractors and at other rinks they're employees of the club or the rink itself, so it's hard to come up with consistent practices given that coaches are employed under several different forms of employment. Which is another good reason to have something like SafeSport because it sets consistent standards of behaviour, no matter what kind of employment relationship the coach has with the club or the rink.
 

Willin

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What I see is background checks on all coaches over 18. It used to be individual rink policy but now it’s policy for all rinks via SS, ISI, PSA, or USFSA.

Which is a good step, but ultimately means nothing if concerns don’t show up via a conviction or official legal action. Obviously rumors aren’t on a background check, even if they can be useful when hiring a coach (some accusations/behavior is well known and witnessed, just unofficial or has been ignored by the proper authorities). Some behavior wouldn’t show up because it’s a professional sanction but not criminal - some rinks will check PSA/ISU/USFS sanctions, but not all will. And what about those who have had their cases reported with evidence but nothing was done?

It would be nice if there was some sort of SafeSport background check that integrated non-court sanctions into a simple background check for rinks. It would still rely on reporting and whether reporting was done, but it might make it easier for rinks to vet coaches.
 

overedge

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What I see is background checks on all coaches over 18. It used to be individual rink policy but now it’s policy for all rinks via SS, ISI, PSA, or USFSA.

Which is a good step, but ultimately means nothing if concerns don’t show up via a conviction or official legal action.
And there's also people younger than 18 who have contact with skaters, like learn-to-skate program assistants, but IME at many clubs the only qualification to do that kind of job is to have a certain test level.
 

Artistic Skaters

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And to follow up on @Artistic Skaters insights, at some points in this process of evolution there were more stringent requirements for skating club volunteers - e.g. passing criminal record checks - than there were for coaches. That was just wrong.
Another issue is that the vast majority of the complaints in this area come from coaches, not officials or volunteers. As representatives of that contingent of the organization, there is truly no excuse for them not to participate in the management of the problem and support the efforts to solve it.

Generally it seems like the leadership from PSA has improved in this area over the past ten years. However, if coaches are going to misrepresent arbitration procedures and make public statements to tabloids, media, and other groups about how their constitutional rights are being violated and such, maybe it's time for a refresher training course.
 

Artistic Skaters

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It's not about skating, but here is a good article posted today by Scott Reid with the OC Register that gives some detailed highlights of the SafeSport process from the time the complaint was filed through the decision. It says there will be a follow-up article detailing the appeals process.

*** Team USA weightlifter Jennyfer Roberts reported being raped, but Safesport process only added to her anxiety :
https://www.dailynews.com/2019/03/1...-safesport-process-only-added-to-her-anxiety/
SafeSport, after an 11-month investigation, determined that Burns, a former Mission Viejo resident, committed “non-consensual sex acts” against an incapacitated Roberts in her hotel room while they represented the U.S. at a pre-Olympic test event in Rio de Janeiro in April 2016. Burns was banned on February 14, 2018 for 10 years from participating in any activity sanctioned by the USOC, USA Weightlifting or any other national governing body. He was also suspended for an additional two years for lying to investigators about having sex with Roberts and about being in her hotel room on the night of the alleged rape.
Burns appealed the SafeSport bans, insisting he and Roberts had consensual sex. A three-member arbitration panel agreed with SafeSport that Burns lied repeatedly to investigators.

“He lied, and lied again and again,” the arbitration panel wrote in its ruling document. “This is not acceptable.”

Yet the panel overturned the 10-year ban in a July ruling that SafeSport had not proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Burns had engaged in non-consensual sex. The arbitrators also reduced his suspension for lying from two years to 18 months.
 

Rock2

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I think it means anyone who instructors or works with the athlete in training, so it includes choreographers as well as e.g. physiotherapists, fitness trainers, dance teachers.
This is not uncommon. I have tried several times to engage in volunteer activity outside of anything to do with sport - just to be charitable. If it's even a slightly known org, I have to engage in a ton of paperwork consisiting of background checks and questions about my marital status, sexual orientation and the like.

While I do understand the need to know who you're taking on - esp if you might come in contact with younger people, I was completely put off by the process. I did the paperwork a few times and never got called, despite my whistle clean background and professional resume. I'm sure being a single white male and other factors ended up being a flag in their system. I no longer bother trying to formally volunteer for anything, and instead search for other ways to lend my time and energy.

The world we live in....
 

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