Tarah Kayne details abuse allegations against sanctioned coach Sappenfield

greenapple

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It's funny because Brennan was on TSL the other day heavily promoting how skaters should feel free to come to her and share their stories, how it will all be totally off the record and she would never do anything to make them feel uncomfortable or make them talk about it in public before they're ready.
Exactly. It was the exact opposite of what she said during her self-promotion on that video. It was not a question that should have been asked on a public forum. Obviously Knierim was not ready so it should have been dropped, but apparently Phil Hersh also weighed in and asked a question about the same topic.
 

Debbie S

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It wasn't the time or place for Brennan to ask that question. However, USFS should have been prepared for the questions to be asked and talked about it with Alexa ahead of time. And the comms dir should have stepped in and redirected the convo.

But after that question, Brennan asked another one, about reporting to SafeSport (Alexa is currently a coach, therefore a mandatory reporter). I don't have a Twitter so can't pull out the tweet directly to link here but it's currently the latest tweet in Brennan's feed. Alexa's response is....disturbing.

I'm sorry USFS let Alexa hang out to dry but her comment suggests she shouldn't be coaching. Actually, it's a good indication of the culture within sport that allows abuse to continue
 

LeafOnTheWind

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It wasn't the time or place for Brennan to ask that question. However, USFS should have been prepared for the questions to be asked and talked about it with Alexa ahead of time. And the comms dir should have stepped in and redirected the convo.

But after that question, Brennan asked another one, about reporting to SafeSport (Alexa is currently a coach, therefore a mandatory reporter). I don't have a Twitter so can't pull out the tweet directly to link here but it's currently the latest tweet in Brennan's feed. Alexa's response is....disturbing.

I'm sorry USFS let Alexa hang out to dry but her comment suggests she shouldn't be coaching. Actually, it's a good indication of the culture within sport that allows abuse to continue
https://twitter.com/cbrennansports/status/1447651437320757255/photo/1

This is it. I got the impression that Alexa was answering the question about talking to SafeSport about Dalilah. I don't think she answered the question of being a mandatory reporter herself. It's two questions in one and one answer to the last IMO.

ETA: I am perfectly fine with her saying she wants to keep any possible conversations with SafeSport about Dalilah confidential. If she herself was abused she may not be in a place where she can sit and talk to journalists about it. We need to have abuse reported and punished but I am not all that comfortable with this style of questioning to someone who could potentially be a victim.
 
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Debbie S

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https://twitter.com/cbrennansports/status/1447651437320757255/photo/1

This is it. I got the impression that Alexa was answering the question about talking to SafeSport about Dalilah. I don't think she answered the question of being a mandatory reporter herself. It's two questions in one and one answer to the last IMO.

ETA: I am perfectly fine with her saying she wants to keep any possible conversations with SafeSport about Dalilah confidential. If she herself was abused she may not be in a place where she can sit and talk to journalists about it.
Hmmm, well, I took her response to mean that she hadn't talked to SafeSport and wants to keep anything she observed of Dalilah private. But I can see how it could mean what you are saying. But if she has talked to SafeSport, it's not a violation of confidentiality to just say yes, and I can't comment on the details. If she doesn't want anyone to know if she's reported/discussed, that again goes back to a culture of silence.
 

Vagabond

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It's funny because Brennan was on TSL the other day heavily promoting how skaters should feel free to come to her and share their stories, how it will all be totally off the record and she would never do anything to make them feel uncomfortable or make them talk about it in public before they're ready.
I watched TSL. Brennan was talking about victims of abuse. She never said she would refrain from asking possible witnesses to abuse questions on the spot at a press availability. And why should she, other than that there may have been an implied understanding that the allowed scope of questions was severely limited?
 
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yeslek

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https://twitter.com/cbrennansports/status/1447651437320757255/photo/1

This is it. I got the impression that Alexa was answering the question about talking to SafeSport about Dalilah. I don't think she answered the question of being a mandatory reporter herself. It's two questions in one and one answer to the last IMO.

ETA: I am perfectly fine with her saying she wants to keep any possible conversations with SafeSport about Dalilah confidential. If she herself was abused she may not be in a place where she can sit and talk to journalists about it. We need to have abuse reported and punished but I am not all that comfortable with this style of questioning to someone who could potentially be a victim.
That was my impression too.
 

yeslek

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Fear of retaliation from Dalilah? Possible. I would believe that in a heartbeat. I just am really struggling to completely denounce Alexa because I don't know if she's a victim too.
I think she likely is.
 

yeslek

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Agreed. It's really putting Alexa on the spot. What if she was abused herself or hasn't processed how she feels about everything? That could be very triggering especially on a zoom call with multiple journalists. It's a setup because it's such a sensitive topic that if she can't formulate the right response immediately she could be accused of enabling an abuser. Alexa handled it pretty well all things considered. I think if Brennan wanted a comment from Alexa on that issue, she should have reached out to her privately and then Alexa could either have time to compose her response or not comment. It's funny because Brennan was on TSL the other day heavily promoting how skaters should feel free to come to her and share their stories, how it will all be totally off the record and she would never do anything to make them feel uncomfortable or make them talk about it in public before they're ready.
Especially with how likely it is that Alexa has also been a victim.
 

wickedwitch

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I watched TSL. Brennan was talking about victims of abuse. She never said she would refrain from asking possible witnesses to abuse questions on the spot at a press availability. And why should she, other than that there may have been an implied understanding that the allowed scope of questions was severely limited?
Because she cannot know for sure if Alexa is or is not another victim.
 

overedge

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It says a lot about the continual incompetence of USFS communications/PR staff that they apparently didn't anticipate the possibility of that kind of question, and prepare Alexa or Brandon with a response.

Either they're incompetent, or they think this story is going to go away, or they think that the media are only going to ask what they've been told to ask about. None of those are good things.

And to those saying Brennan shouldn't have asked those questions: Larry Nassar might still be on the loose if reporters hadn't started asking US Gymnastics uncomfortable questions.
 

LeafOnTheWind

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And to those saying Brennan shouldn't have asked those questions: Larry Nassar might still be on the loose if reporters hadn't started asking US Gymnastics uncomfortable questions.
IMO she can ask every uncomfortable question to the powers that be in US Figure Skating. Just not potential victims. Now that Tarah has come forward with her story we might see more coming to tell theirs. But it has to be their decision.
 

Karen-W

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Having listened to the TSL broadcast, I think it's pretty clear Brennan doesn't know the identities of all 11 of the other victims who Sappenfield is banned from having contact with. She dearly wants some of them to come to her and share their stories (don't blame her there - that's part of her job as a journalist).

Alexa's response to the SafeSport question - I think it was a fine response. It could have been a little more nuanced - as in "In my role as a coach/instructor, yes, I am a mandatory reporter, and any discussions that I have with SafeSport are supposed to remain confidential. Next question." The fact that it wasn't that soundbite perfect shows that Alexa wasn't expecting questions about the Tarah Kayne story, and I agree with others who think the USFS and their comms director should have anticipated this line of questioning and prepared their skaters accordingly.

Hopefully Danny will be more ready and prepared come Skate America for any wayward reporters' questions on the topic, and the same for any other skaters who have or did train at the same rinks where Dalilah's been over the years. This story isn't going to go away anytime soon and the USFS sorely needs someone skilled at crisis management/communications before it spirals further out.
 

tony

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I know Knierim has been under scrutiny for a lot of what she’s said in the past, but it wasn’t her job to get the gossip of the rink or watch closely to see what was happening. She’s an adult, she probably came to the rink and was focused on her skating or at the very least not trying to know what everyone else was doing. She shouldn’t have been asked during a pre-Skate America call, even if Brennan is trying to do better work or get more victims to come forward.
 

LeafOnTheWind

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All the speculation here as to whether Sappenfield bullied Alexa Knierem is creepy, to say the least.
I wouldn't say it's only about Alexa. At this point every single female student of Sappenfield is a potential victim. Yes it is creepy that US Figure Skating allowed this situation to exist. I would say that expecting a reporter to leave room for doubt and show some compassion to potential triggering questions is not unreasonable.
 

jlai

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As mentioned above, Alexa and Chris had a very close relationship with Sappenfield, including letting her officiate at their wedding. I have no idea what Alexa actually saw or didn't see, but I would imagine she's struggling right now with processing the extent of the abuse that Tarah suffered through.

And even if she didn't express it in the most graceful way, she's right that abusers can be very pleasant to other people while still being horribly abusive.
Yup. I have experienced this once at work. I had a great relationship with another team, one of which I worked regularly with. I thought we, along with her supervisor, got along very well together....after that coworker left, I finally realized that she was sexually harassed all this time, and tried to file an HR complaint against her supervisor. Her supervisor retaliated. All this happened while working with me, and I didn't have a clue! I still felt very guilty now for not having known. I support her, but my experience with that supervisor was VERY different.
 

Lacey

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Obviously, we should first and foremost be thinking of Tarah Kayne at this time. I hope for her that she has some major sense of relief to be able to talk about what happened to her. I know that her friends and family, even fans who don't know her personally are supporting her now.

I am sure there were more, among them the 11 others whose charges about Dalilah Sappenfield who SafeSport has acknowledged it is investigating and whom she is not allowed to see or teach right now.

I worry that Sappenfield is permitted to teach other skaters as long as another adult is present. IMO, she shouldn't be allowed on the ice or in a rink until the charges against her are settled.

I wonder if more skaters will come forward and/or if there will be a permanent ban against Dalilah. With the charges against Larry Nassar in gymnastics, others came out when the first ones spoke and the followers hadn't even realized that, yes, what he did was abusive and he had done the same or similar to them. This may happen here, particularly with the verbal abuse.

I agree about the below about Alexa, but hope I am not sticking my foot in it:

Agreed. It's really putting Alexa on the spot. What if she was abused herself or hasn't processed how she feels about everything? That could be very triggering especially on a zoom call with multiple journalists. It's a setup because it's such a sensitive topic that if she can't formulate the right response immediately she could be accused of enabling an abuser. Alexa handled it pretty well all things considered. I think if Brennan wanted a comment from Alexa on that issue, she should have reached out to her privately and then Alexa could either have time to compose her response or not comment. It's funny because Brennan was on TSL the other day heavily promoting how skaters should feel free to come to her and share their stories, how it will all be totally off the record and she would never do anything to make them feel uncomfortable or make them talk about it in public before they're ready.

What if she was abused herself or hasn't processed how she feels about everything?

IIRC Alexa and Chris left Dalilah Sappenfield as their coach quite suddenly. Who knows, I wonder if they didn't figure out what had happened to some of those who had left previously or if finally it was starting to happen to them also, something caused them to leave town.

They may or may not want to ever discuss what happened to them, that's his or her right.

I just hope SafeSport gets to the bottom of this and ACTS FASTER THAN IT HAS IN THE PAST. And perhaps USFS reacting on the outcome could be an ultimate goal of this latest information. There should be some recompense, if not voluntarily then through the courts.
 
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skatingguy

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I don't see how Brennan doesn't ask the question of Alexa Knierim in that press availability, and if it wasn't Brennan it would have been the next reporter. I would think that the USFS had know that the question was coming, and they gave Brennan the chance to ask first because of her history on the story.
 

kwanfan1818

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And to those saying Brennan shouldn't have asked those questions: Larry Nassar might still be on the loose if reporters hadn't started asking US Gymnastics uncomfortable questions.
Call me cynical, but I think this got traction not because of journalists, but because a police woman believed the victims and the police found hard-drives full of child porn in Nasser's garbage, only because the garbage truck was late that morning.
 

Theatregirl1122

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And to those saying Brennan shouldn't have asked those questions: Larry Nassar might still be on the loose if reporters hadn't started asking US Gymnastics uncomfortable questions.

Alexa is not US Figure skating. Brennan springing questions on another woman who was coached by Delilah would be a lot more like reporters springing questions on Simone Biles, Jordyn Weiber, Gabby Douglas, or even athletes like Kyle Ross and Madison Kocian before we had any idea who the victims might actually be and potentially before the victims had a chance to come to terms with it themselves.

Jumping on Alexa has no value. Hold the people responsible who are, not whoever is most vulnerable and available in the moment.
 

overedge

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@Theatregirl1122 Fair enough, but USFS definitely screwed up (again) by not preparing Alexa for that kind of question.

Brennan has also stated on Twitter that her DMs are open, if any skaters or people with knowledge of Sappenfield's behavior want to communicate with her privately.
 
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kwanfan1818

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It's a strategy to go after the vulnerable low-hanging fruit, hoping that will lead them to big fish, but they haven't even de-certified US Gymnastics...
 

skatingguy

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Call me cynical, but I think this got traction not because of journalists, but because a police woman believed the victims and the police found hard-drives full of child porn in Nasser's garbage, only because the garbage truck was late that morning.
The timeline of the criminal investigation is entirely clear to me, but the Indianapolis Star was working with Rachel Denhollander in the summer of 2016 on several stories about USA Gymnastics, sexual abuse allegations, and Larry Nassar in the lead up to her filing suit in California, and filing a criminal complaint in Michigan.
 

Coco

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Larry Nassar was quietly relieved of his duties for USA Gymnastics in 2015, before the 2016 Indianapolis Star article about USA Gymnastics' general issues with covering up abuse complaints.

I think he was suspended from treating patients at MSU after the article.

So...asking questions at press conferences played absolutely no role in Larry being removed from treating patients.

 

Artistic Skaters

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I agree the Indianapolis Star did a really good job and reported long term in-depth coverage on the gymnastics issues and it was quite a bit more investigative work than asking questions at press conferences. Too bad that team of reporters doesn't want to relocate to Colorado Springs to provide the same for figure skating.
 

Vagabond

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I wouldn't say it's only about Alexa. At this point every single female student of Sappenfield is a potential victim. Yes it is creepy that US Figure Skating allowed this situation to exist. I would say that expecting a reporter to leave room for doubt and show some compassion to potential triggering questions is not unreasonable.
Please don't distort my words. The people I said were being creepy are the people who are speculating about Alexa Knierim's private life. I said nothing about USFS.

Every person in the world may have been a victim of abuse of one kind or another and might be triggered by questions about the abuse that someone else suffered. In the U.S., one in five people was bullied in school, and one in four people in this country has been raped or sexually assaulted. Those statistics don't even consider the people who have been subjected to some other form of abuse. Although Christine Brennan might have some inside information about Alexa Knierim, there is no indication that she does.

Now that Tarah Kayne has courageously come forth with her account of abuse, the proper thing for Brennan to do is to run with the story and ask people who might have been witnesses whether they knew anything. Alexa Knierim says she did not, so let us take her at her word.
 

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