Zimmerman suspended for 2 years by U.S. Center for SafeSport

okokok777

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One of the "mitigating factors" I saw Okokok cite was that Vinny was asking the girl to request the pictures either a) because he thought it was a joke or b) he wanted evidence. Either way neither of those things is or ever should be a mitigating factor. If you think it's a joke, maybe don't joke about sexual violence and bring a 13-year-old into a "joke" about sexual violence. If you think it might true, maybe report it like you're supposed to and have the experts do the evidence-gathering instead of victimizing a 13-year-old. And, even then he messed up AGAIN by not reporting this to the police when he found out it was true and instead reported it only to people that had incentive to cover things up. So, yeah, I don't think he deserves to get off as light as he did even with the alleged "mitigating factors."

Just wanted to add a bit to this. The reason that I theorize that this could've contributed to Vinny's sanction was because I saw a few people asking why he got one of the shortest sanctions when he initiated everything. The Center does look into power dynamics and intentions when sanctioning. There are other potential factors that I believe played into the shorter sanction. I still think the sanction was way too short - even if my theory is correct and the Center couldn't find him & Silvia liable of other violations due to reasons out of their control.

Let this be a lesson to the skating community on the meaning of the word "mandatory." I'm sure Zimmerman and Fontana feel like they've been made an example. That is exactly one of the points of the sentence. I suspect they feel that others have gotten away with far worse (and I suspect they're right about that). Again, that is one of the points of the sentence.

The sentence, at least for Zimmerman, is fair in my view. This was a gross, inexcusable lapse in judgment, unquestionably wrong. There should be punishment, but there should also be possibility for redemption. I can't support the people calling for a lifetime ban, treating one person's knowledge that someone sent else a d*ck pic to a minor the same way as another person's actual commission of rape, molestation, physical abuse, etc. against a minor (or anyone). Both are wrong, but there is a world of difference between the two.

If we want Safe Sport to work properly, we need degrees of punishment, the same way that exists in the criminal justice system. If everything is going to result in a broad-brush lifetime ban, I suspect witnesses will be more likely to remain silent and those within the sport will (continue to) view Safe Sport with skepticism and lack of trust.

This is a victory, and the punishment (at least for Zimmerman) is entirely appropriate.

So, I'm obviously looking at this from a different perspective than most but there are a few things I really disagree with here.

1. They actively intimidated a middle-school aged girl into not reporting to the proper authorities - going so far as to slut-shame and threaten her. That goes way beyond a "gross, inexcusable lapse in judgement" IMO

2. You're assuming that the only thing they had knowledge about (and subsequently intimidated the survivor into not reporting) was the December 2017 picture incident.

3. When looking at potential for redemption, you also need to look at the perpetrator's response to the investigation and sanction. Zimmerman and Fontana (along with their supporters) believe they've been unfairly punished by the Center. They don't think they did anything wrong. They're planning to appeal the sanction. Redemption requires a person to be accountable for their actions & recognize where they went wrong. Zimmerman and Fontana have not done any of this. IMO they got lucky due to a variety of factors that meant the Center couldn't sanction them for other things.
 

allezfred

Lipinski Stole My Catchphrase
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The sentence, at least for Zimmerman, is fair in my view. This was a gross, inexcusable lapse in judgment, unquestionably wrong. There should be punishment, but there should also be possibility for redemption. I can't support the people calling for a lifetime ban, treating one person's knowledge that someone sent else a d*ck pic to a minor the same way as another person's actual commission of rape, molestation, physical abuse, etc. against a minor (or anyone). Both are wrong, but there is a world of difference between the two.
I totally agree.
 

jlai

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Even in the criminal justice system (which this is not), first time offenders often get probation for something that a second time offenders get harsher judgement for. SO I guess if first time offenders don't learn from this and repeat the offense, next time it will not be just probation.

As for whether the punishment is harsh, fair or not harsh enough, I'd say that even in the criminal justice system (which this is not), punishment is very uneven; some get off for major stuff; some get years for even small stuff, so there you go...
(e.g. R. Callaghan will be a prime example)
 
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puglover

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2,221
What was done here is also looked at in light of the "Me Too" movement. For many girls and women, any kind of censure for sexual inappropriateness from a male has been a long time coming. An adult, world class athlete on the one hand and a 13 year old girl, local skater on the other is such a glaring example of a power difference that has often been ignored. I totally agree, this is not anywhere near the tragedy of rape, etc. but he really picked the wrong time in history to do it.
 

Brenda_Bottems

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Yet even more evidence the social media cesspool is accelerating the rapid downfall of society.

You're funny too. I'm sure you think you're smart with your high and mighty arrogance.........lol You're stuck in your ways. That makes you really old.....HA. I can still do a triple Toe. How about you?

...And here is another example of the rapid downfall of our society. I would prefer be "stuck in my ways" and "really old" (even if I don't look it) than functionally illiterate,unable to write a complete sentence,lacking morals, and likely promiscuous.

And a triple toe? Sweetie,let me know when you can successfully execute a paragraph double three.

-BB
 
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overedge

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@puglover I get what you are saying, but the severity of the penalties shouldn't depend on whether other people are being brought to account for similar offenses. The ugly other side of that line of reasoning is that people should be punished less severely if it's not a time in society when that behavior isn't in the public eye.
 

Japanfan

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24,464
The sentence, at least for Zimmerman, is fair in my view. This was a gross, inexcusable lapse in judgment, unquestionably wrong. There should be punishment, but there should also be possibility for redemption. I can't support the people calling for a lifetime ban, treating one person's knowledge that someone sent else a d*ck pic to a minor the same way as another person's actual commission of rape, molestation, physical abuse, etc. against a minor (or anyone). Both are wrong, but there is a world of difference between the two.

Even so, I think a lifetime ban is in order. It would send a strong message, which is necessary IMO. A slap on the wrist just doesn't do it.
 

jlai

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@puglover I get what you are saying, but the severity of the penalties shouldn't depend on whether other people are being brought to account for similar offenses. The ugly other side of that line of reasoning is that people should be punished less severely if it's not a time in society when that behavior isn't in the public eye.
In reality in criminal justice, punishment often has to do with what kinds of crimes politicians and judges want to be seen to be tough on.
It is all value judgement and value judgement changes as society changes too.

We generally agree that murder is a severe crime and shoplifting is minor; failing to report is a grey one and there will likely be no agreement.
 

antmanb

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The sentence, at least for Zimmerman, is fair in my view. This was a gross, inexcusable lapse in judgment, unquestionably wrong. There should be punishment, but there should also be possibility for redemption. I can't support the people calling for a lifetime ban, treating one person's knowledge that someone sent else a d*ck pic to a minor the same way as another person's actual commission of rape, molestation, physical abuse, etc. against a minor (or anyone). Both are wrong, but there is a world of difference between the two.

I totally agree.
Me three, however (and i know that they were totally different processes) but when you have every man and their dog aware that Tonya Harding was banned for life for what? Withholding evidence, or being a co-conspirator in physical attack against a fellow skater? And then John Zimmerman getting just a two year ban for bullying and threatening a child to not go public with the news of what Cipres did it seems a little bit off.
 

Vagabond

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Even so, I think a lifetime ban is in order. It would send a strong message, which is necessary IMO. A slap on the wrist just doesn't do it.
One should always beware of unintended consequences. A lifetime ban for voluntary reporters might discourage victims from reporting anything. Consider the example of the recent Peter Oppegard case, where the victim didn't want to report anything lest she affect Oppegard's family.
 

Coco

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Um, but they only came in line for a punishment because they DIDN'T report anything and harshly treated a 13 year old in an attempt to not talk to authorities.

So how does harshly punishing them dissuade voluntary reporters from coming forward? If J&S had come forward immediately, they would not have been punished for anything relating to the private photo. There is the separate issue of them having an uninsured coach, but that is not what they are being punished for as far as we know.

I also think a lifetime ban is too much, but I just don't understand your logic.
 

Vagabond

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Um, but they only came in line for a punishment because they DIDN'T report anything and harshly treated a 13 year old in an attempt to not talk to authorities.

So how does harshly punishing them dissuade voluntary reporters from coming forward? If J&S had come forward immediately, they would not have been punished for anything relating to the private photo. There is the separate issue of them having an uninsured coach, but that is not what they are being punished for as far as we know.

I also think a lifetime ban is too much, but I just don't understand your logic.
I said it might discourage victims, not mandatory reporters, from coming forward.

Victims have a lot to deal with, including recognizing abuse for what it is. They may worry about causing trouble for others just by speaking up. I say this having been the victim of abuse myself.
 

Vagabond

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IMO anyone who commits a crime as egregious as Zimmerman shouldn't ever work with kids again. He can bag groceries. He doesn't get to be a coach of kids.
There are some problems with this.

First, he hasn't been convicted of, or apparently even charged with, a crime, though from what I have read I would say that he possibly should be.

Second, SafeSport cannot prevent him from working with kids in some field other than sports. That's the responsibility of government.

Third, SafeSport was apparently aware of other factors besides those that have been made public.

Fourth, there may more be appropriate outcomes than what has actually happened and what you oppose? How about preventing him from ever coaching a minor after the suspension ends? Or requiring him to provide his disciplinary record to every prospective client regardless of age? And I think that a longer suspension would have been in order here.

I understand (and share) the emotional reaction people have to the concept of letting Zimmerman & Co. off easily, but professional discipline needs to be rational and fair to all involved, including those subject to discipline.
 

VGThuy

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Me three, however (and i know that they were totally different processes) but when you have every man and their dog aware that Tonya Harding was banned for life for what? Withholding evidence, or being a co-conspirator in physical attack against a fellow skater? And then John Zimmerman getting just a two year ban for bullying and threatening a child to not go public with the news of what Cipres did it seems a little bit off.
Is it off though? USFS found Tonya's actions to not only be a criminal act, but a violent criminal act against not just a victim but a fellow competitor and member of USFS in order to affect the result of the biggest USFS competition of that year. So, it was not only the heinous crime itself, but the fact that it directly affected USFS business. Their job is to host sporting events for its competitor-members, so Harding and her cronies' behavior were found not only bad on their own but also touched upon unsportsmanship-like behavior since their motivation to commit a crime was to win a championship by getting the strongest competitor out of the way. That truly hits a skating federation. A lifetime ban seems warranted. Violent crime is still a violent crime, even if it may not be sexual in nature, and the perpetrators lucked out in that Kerrigan wasn't more permanently injured. She clearly still had some psychological scars from the incident though.
 
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antmanb

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Is it off though? USFS found Tonya's actions to not only be a criminal act, but a violent criminal act against not just a victim but a fellow competitor and member of USFS in order to affect the result of the biggest USFS competition of that year. So, it was not only the heinous crime itself, but the fact that it directly affected USFS business. Their job is to host sporting events for its competitor-members, so Harding and her cronies' behavior were found not only bad on their own but also touched upon unsportsmanship-like behavior since their motivation to commit a crime was to win a championship by getting the strongest competitor out of the way. That truly hits a skating federation. A lifetime ban seems warranted. Violent crime is still a violent crime, even if it may not be sexual in nature, and the perpetrators lucked out in that Kerrigan wasn't more permanently injured. She clearly still had some psychological scars from the incident though.
Did they? I didn't think Tonya was found guilty of anything as concrete as that which is why I asked the questions. I know it's wikipedia but that simply says she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution and that was it. The USFSA disciplinary hearing was based on lack of sportsmanship and ethical behaviour which is quite a far cry from committing a violent criminal act.
 

canbelto

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There are some problems with this.

First, he hasn't been convicted of, or apparently even charged with, a crime, though from what I have read I would say that he possibly should be.

Second, SafeSport cannot prevent him from working with kids in some field other than sports. That's the responsibility of government.

Third, SafeSport was apparently aware of other factors besides those that have been made public.

Fourth, there may more be appropriate outcomes than what has actually happened and what you oppose? How about preventing him from ever coaching a minor after the suspension ends? Or requiring him to provide his disciplinary record to every prospective client regardless of age? And I think that a longer suspension would have been in order here.

I understand (and share) the emotional reaction people have to the concept of letting Zimmerman & Co. off easily, but professional discipline needs to be rational and fair to all involved, including those subject to discipline.

I just feel like a coach who comes into contact with minors has to be held to a higher level than a skater. I'm not saying Zimmerman should never work again. Just that a coach working with kids should be held to higher levels of behavior.
 

Lemonade20

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I don't agree with that. I think 2-5 years is about right for such an offense. Lifetime bans are for abusers and pedophiles, not for mandatory reporters.
Well Tonya Harding got a lifetime ban and it didn't involve minors.
 

Vagabond

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I just feel like a coach who comes into contact with minors has to be held to a higher level than a skater. I'm not saying Zimmerman should never work again. Just that a coach working with kids should be held to higher levels of behavior.
He is held to a higher standard. He's a mandatory reporter and can be disciplined and prosecuted for failing to report abuse. Someone like Vanessa James, a skater who was seemingly aware of what was going on, is not being held to the same standard as James Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana.

I think that you, a teacher and therefore most likely a mandatory reporter in your own state, know all this.
 

canbelto

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He is held to a higher standard. He's a mandatory reporter and can be disciplined and prosecuted for failing to report abuse. Someone like Vanessa James, a skater who was seemingly aware of what was going on, is not being held to the same standard as James Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana.

I think that you, a teacher and therefore most likely a mandatory reporter in your own state, know all this.

I am a mandated reporter and have had to call CPS many times. You can be fired for not reporting. A 2 year suspension is a slap on the wrists.
 

VGThuy

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Did they? I didn't think Tonya was found guilty of anything as concrete as that which is why I asked the questions. I know it's wikipedia but that simply says she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution and that was it. The USFSA disciplinary hearing was based on lack of sportsmanship and ethical behaviour which is quite a far cry from committing a violent criminal act.


Harding's actions surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, "evidence a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior," the panel said.

William Hybl, the former United States Olympic Committee president who chaired the panel, said Harding's March 16 admission that she conspired to hinder prosecution of those responsible for the attack was the most important factor in the decision. But the panel believed Harding's involvement went much further.

"By a preponderance of the evidence, the panel did conclude that she had prior knowledge and was involved prior to the incident," Hybl said.

In Tonya's case, lack of sportsmanship HAS to include involvement in the violent attack against Kerrigan. That was the act of unsportsmanship. The discipline committee isn't a criminal court so they won't find her "guilty" of violent crime, but they can make findings based on their own reading of the evidence provided to them that she was involved in the attack and thus make a decision to bar her for life.

"I think it's a cumulative effect of a lot of evidence," he said. "I will tell you that various records -- bank records, phone records -- and the way they came together to establish a case really were very important to this panel."

Either way, if we want to argue about whether Zimmerman and co.'s sentences were fair or not, one does not need to bring up Harding and minimize her actions to make such an argument. It seems like we're using this incident of sexual-related actions with a minor to start advocating for Harding, which rubs me the wrong way. Plus, they're different entities handing out the sentences right? One was the USFS disciplinary committee. The other is SafeSport.
 

Lemonade20

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In Tonya's case, lack of sportsmanship HAS to include involvement in the violent attack against Kerrigan. That was the act of unsportsmanship. The discipline committee isn't a criminal court so they won't find her "guilty" of violent crime, but they can make findings based on their own reading of the evidence provided to them that she was involved in the attack and thus make a decision to bar her for life.



Either way, if we want to argue about whether Zimmerman and co.'s sentences were fair or not, one does not need to bring up Harding and minimize her actions to make such an argument. It seems like we're using this incident of sexual-related actions with a minor to start advocating for Harding, which rubs me the wrong way. Plus, they're different entities handing out the sentences right? One was the USFS disciplinary committee. The other is SafeSport.
My point being, why aren't we seeing harsher punishments for anything like this? Yes, it's not quite the same, but if someone's being accused and there's evidence, how the hell are they still getting away with it?
 

overedge

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@Lemonade20 Without seeing all of the evidence we don't know how reliable it is, or how much of it is consistent. There's obviously enough evidence to justify some kind of penalty, but the investigator or arbitrator might not have been able to impose a stronger penalty if some of the information was inconsistent or incomplete.
 

canbelto

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It's not right but Tonya received a lifetime suspension because the victim (Nancy Kerrigan) was pushed as USFA's ice princess. The victim here is an anonymous teen without name or brand recognition.
 

VGThuy

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It's not right but Tonya received a lifetime suspension because the victim (Nancy Kerrigan) was pushed as USFA's ice princess. The victim here is an anonymous teen without name or brand recognition.
Oh great, now we're using this horrific incident with a minor victim (a 13-year-old girl!) involved with receiving a picture of a grown man's genitalia to push Nancy is an ice princess and receiving preferential treatment thing again. There's simply no shame, is there? Glad to see how this case can be used to show how Tonya was the REAL victim.
 

canbelto

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Oh great, now we're using this horrific incident with a minor victim (a 13-year-old girl!) involved with receiving a picture of a grown man's genitalia to push Nancy is an ice princess and receiving preferential treatment thing again. There's simply no shame, is there? Glad to see how this case can be used to show how Tonya was the REAL victim.

Whoa. Chill out. I'm just saying they made a bigger fuss of Tonya because Nancy was someone they wanted to protect. She was a VIP. The anonymous victim here isn't a VIP. It's gross how she's perceived as less important.
 

VGThuy

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Whoa. Chill out. I'm just saying they made a bigger fuss of Tonya because Nancy was someone they wanted to protect. She was a VIP. The anonymous victim here isn't a VIP. It's gross how she's perceived as less important.
Also the fact that Nancy Kerrigan was a grown woman, was a name in figure skating, and the media was all there to capture the direct aftermath of the attack and it was perpetrated by those a direct and close competitor was linked to and then later on lied about her level of involvement and has had inconsistent stories about it since. In this case, the victim is a minor, minors are almost always anonymous unless they choose to come forward, a wholly different organization handled the investigation AND sentencing, and it involved a French skater who was being investigated by Florida law enforcement but ended up running away to France. Totally different cases, set of facts (and in this case, we aren't privy to all of the evidence that came forward), different sentencing guidelines, etc. But, yeah, it was all about protecting Nancy and hurting Tonya because they just hated Tonya that much and loved Nancy so much. I cannot believe we're talking about Tonya Harding in this case. I'm gonna peace out.
 

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