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

MacMadame

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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.
The issue with Harding and why she ended up at the Olympics even though USFS didn't want her there is that there was evidence that she was involved in the attack from the beginning (an attack that was supposed to maim her competitor) but the prosecutor decided to go for a plea deal rather than leave it to the vagarities of a jury trial. So USFS saw damning evidence, believed she was involved, but were between a rock and hard place in terms of keeping her off the team. Kerrigan also saw the evidence that the FBI had and said she has no doubt Tonya was involved.

So there is what was proved via the justice system (which is in Wikipedia) and there was what reasonable people believe having seen more evidence than what the public saw (not in Wikipedia but reported in the media).

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.
You can be fired but would you be prevented from working somewhere else? I don't think you ended up in a database of offenders or have a criminal record so I would say that most likely you can. A Lifetime ban from skating means you have to have a different career now.

I believe in restorative justice and I would normally be okay with 2 years with a year of probation afterward along with some kind of training and community service. The reason the sentence bugs in this case is that the coaches are so clearly unrepentant. You can't have restorative justice if the perpetrator doesn't apologize and admit guilt; that's the first step.

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.
That is totally not why she received a lifetime ban. It was because there was evidence that she knew about the attacks beforehand and actively participated in a plan to maim a fellow competitor.

Insiders from that time will tell you that Nancy wasn't particularly liked, btw. (And have said so in a public forum which is why I know about it.) Whether for good reason or not is definitely debatable, of course. But apparently Nancy had a prickly personality or was perceived as such. I think USFS would have embraced Tonya if she had buckled down, kept the 3X, and dazzled at Nationals. Unfortunately, she was a bit of a wildcard which made USFS nervous and then she didn't do those things to make them less nervous.

I see it as USFS having two skaters who could medal both of which were not their first choice. Tonya claimed Nancy got preferential treatment and was the golden girl but Nancy was the reigning National Champion and only got what the reigning National Champion normally got, nothing else.
 

okokok777

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You can be fired but would you be prevented from working somewhere else? I don't think you ended up in a database of offenders or have a criminal record so I would say that most likely you can. A Lifetime ban from skating means you have to have a different career now.

I believe in restorative justice and I would normally be okay with 2 years with a year of probation afterward along with some kind of training and community service. The reason the sentence bugs in this case is that the coaches are so clearly unrepentant. You can't have restorative justice if the perpetrator doesn't apologize and admit guilt; that's the first step.

I'm pretty sure I'd be barred from working in my field if I were to be found liable of failing to report abuse, but that's because one of my jobs is in sexual assault and domestic violence counseling while the other is in sexual violence research. At that point, I'd think the inability to get a job would mostly be about the ineptitude LOL.

And I think you bring up a great point in re: to restorative justice. In general, my issues with the sanctioning has more to do with allegations that haven't been made public yet. However, if we're only discussing the picture/resulting intimidation campaign and had they expressed genuine remorse for their conduct and committed themselves to change, I would've been much more comfortable with the sanctions. But their behavior during the SafeSport and criminal investigation leaves me with very little hope in their potential for redemption.
 

once_upon

Believer in woman's right to own healthcare decisi
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Back to Zimmerman and Safe Sports/penalties

We should remember, the Safe Sports two year suspension is the avenue through Safe Sport. I believe the state of Florida could bring charges of failure to report abuse, which can result in some pretty significant prison time (up to 5 years), probation (up to 5 years) and/or fines (up to $5,000). I suspect at the minimum, a sentence of probation would mean limited interactions with children. I assume parents, therapists or those involved with the rink, can request a police investigation.

In addition a civil suit can be filed, requesting damages - which i would get the minimum would be in the sum of cost of therapy for the girl (perhaps a lifetime amount).

We do not know all the details and reasons Safe Sports chose the penalties they did. I think several people have said, there is more to the story.
 

attyfan

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Also, the availability of multiple methods of penalizing someone (i.e., criminal case, civil suit, and/or regulatory action ... such as SafeSport), is sometimes considered in setting the penalty in one of those methods.
 

MacMadame

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I'm pretty sure I'd be barred from working in my field if I were to be found liable of failing to report abuse, but that's because one of my jobs is in sexual assault and domestic violence counseling while the other is in sexual violence research. At that point, I'd think the inability to get a job would mostly be about the ineptitude LOL.
Well, yes, I wouldn't want a counselor working who didn't understand how to do the job.

But @canbelto is a teacher. I am sympathetic to people who don't understand the mandatory reporter rules and decide something doesn't rise to that then learning that, no, it does, and this is what being a mandatory reporter means. (Not that I think this is the case here based on the recent behavior of the coaches.)

Which reminds me, I'm supposed to do some Safe Sport training... better get on it!
 

Vagabond

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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.
And?

You're an employee. A self-employed social worker, for example, would be in the same position as John Zimmerman -- not subject to being fired, but subject to professional discipline and/or prosecution.
 

Prancer

Aun Aprendo
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I am sympathetic to people who don't understand the mandatory reporter rules and decide something doesn't rise to that then learning that, no, it does, and this is what being a mandatory reporter means. (Not that I think this is the case here based on the recent behavior of the coaches.)
Isn't that what the mandatory training is for?

Of course, the quality of training varies everywhere, so that is a problem. When I first took mandatory reporter training, it was kind of joke. The last time I took it, we were presented with a long string of scenarios at the end and had to define our responsibility for reporting in each case, which was much more effective than just having us read the relevant laws and take a quiz, I think.
 

missing

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I just went back to the original Christine Brennan article to get a sense of what happened when.

The two girls, both underage, were sent the penis picture on Dec. 3, 2017.

One girl's therapist was contacted by her tutor on Dec. 30, 2017 with the information: “Please ask her to share with you the many statements that have been made to her over the past few weeks (mostly by John) in an attempt to manipulate or scare her into keeping quiet,” the tutor wrote of the young skater. “She has been told that telling will place a target on her back with French fans, that she is the type of girl who does this (collect pics), that she has been asking for it by her clothing choices, that her dad is an attorney and imagine what he will do if he finds out, that she will destroy his career and that of his partner, and much more.”

The therapist did what she was supposed to: “I did what I was bound to do ethically. I contacted the parents. I contacted the authorities. I wanted to make sure the child was safe.”

The police come to interview; the girl refuses to tell them what happened. The family moves away. Because the girl has declined to cooperate, the police take no action.

SafeSport is not told that anything has happened until a year and a half later, and then not by either family but by a friend of one of the families: On Aug. 10, 2019, a friend of the family reported the allegation to SafeSport after reading three-time U.S. champion and 2014 Olympic team bronze medalist Ashley Wagner’s story of alleged sexual abuse in USA TODAY Sports on Aug. 1.

I know nothing about how SafeSport operates but perhaps the delay in reporting and the fact that neither family contacted it directly affected its decisions.
 

Louis

Private citizen
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Re: John Zimmerman compared to Tonya Harding, I see three major differences:

1) Harding covered up a first-degree felony. Zimmerman covered up what has been charged as a third-degree felony. World of difference right there alone.

2) Harding lied to police (the FBI)! About an active investigation! During which police resources were being wasted on investigating other leads! I am not aware that Zimmerman lied to authorities. While he took inappropriate actions that discouraged the victim from coming forward, I have not seen evidence that he has lied about his knowledge or misled enforcement bodies.

3) In Zimmerman's case, without excusing his behavior in the least, it is plausible that he could have believed this whole thing was an unfortunate joke that went wrong. Zimmerman's actions, while absolutely wrong, could (in theory) have been well-intentioned but terribly misguided. There is no such argument for Harding. In Harding's case, even if you give her the benefit of the doubt that she did not know beforehand (which I do not), it is indisputable that she covered up a pre-meditated violent criminal offense. There are no possible good intentions in her case.

I don't see the two as anywhere close.
 

MacMadame

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Isn't that what the mandatory training is for?

Of course, the quality of training varies everywhere, so that is a problem.
Yes, IME, some places do a piss poor job of this training and in figure skating where pretty much all of the coaches are independent contractors and there are enough that are working under the table without credentials, I would expect the training to be spotty and/or not very regular. Also, there are a lot of coaches who work somewhere where they aren't legally mandatory reporters (not all states include coaches) and where the concept of mandatory reporting is not one that was around when they started their careers.

That is why I'm okay with giving second chances at least to some people.
 

anonymoose_au

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, it is plausible that he could have believed this whole thing was an unfortunate joke that went wrong.
If he did believe this, he must have paid no attention not only to the mandatory training, but to the entire world for about a decade now.

It's actually scary to think there are adults in this world who would brush off a 27 year old sending a 13 year old a dick pic. Like WTF?! Maybe if it was two 13 year olds (although that still raises some questions), but an adult and a child? Hell no.

Would you really want someone that incapable of moral judgement anywhere near kids?

Plus if even half of what he's alleged to have said to the victim is true then he's an actual threat to children's safety and should not be allowed anywhere near them when he coaches.
 

Louis

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It's actually scary to think there are adults in this world who would brush off a 27 year old sending a 13 year old a dick pic. Like WTF?! Maybe if it was two 13 year olds (although that still raises some questions), but an adult and a child? Hell no.

While not excusing Zimmerman's behavior at all, I do think the facts that this (1) was in response to a request by the receiver, (2) upon a dare instigated by another coach both have some relevance. This wasn't a pic sent out of the blue.

And even if he did think so, telling her that men have needs? I mean, :scream:.

That statement is inexcusable and wrong. Is it corroborated by independent witnesses or otherwise established as fact? (I'm asking.) AFAIK, Zimmerman and Fontana have denied this. If there is proof of this, I'm happy to support a longer ban.

The facts not in dispute are:
1) Dispenza dared the girl to ask for a dick pic
2) The girl did ask for it
3) Cipres sent it
4) Zimmerman and Fontana became aware
5) Z and F did not report it, despite mandatory reporting obligations
6) Z and F had communications with the victim/family and asked them not to report it

Based on those facts, it's clear Zimmerman and Fontana are in the wrong. Is there "reasonable doubt" that their intentions were malicious? IMO, yes. I can construct hypothetical scenarios where their intentions may have been well-meaning even if their actions were clearly wrong. As and if more facts emerge, I am happy to revise my opinion on their degree of wrongdoing. For now, two-year suspension seems right.
 

okokok777

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SafeSport is not told that anything has happened until a year and a half later, and then not by either family but by a friend of one of the families: On Aug. 10, 2019, a friend of the family reported the allegation to SafeSport after reading three-time U.S. champion and 2014 Olympic team bronze medalist Ashley Wagner’s story of alleged sexual abuse in USA TODAY Sports on Aug. 1.

I know nothing about how SafeSport operates but perhaps the delay in reporting and the fact that neither family contacted it directly affected its decisions.

Just a quick clarification:

There were a few other reports to SafeSport, DCF and the police before that. A few reports that I have access to were made in January, February and April of 2019. The August report was the one that officially launched the SafeSport investigation, however.
 

missing

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Just a quick clarification:

There were a few other reports to SafeSport, DCF and the police before that. A few reports that I have access to were made in January, February and April of 2019. The August report was the one that officially launched the SafeSport investigation, however.
Your clarification leaves me even more confused!

The incident happened in the beginning of December 2017 and the therapist was notified by the tutor at the end of Dec. 2017. Presumably the police and the DCF were notified in early 2018.

Did SafeSport have reports before 2019 but no official complaint until August 2019 or I am simply misunderstanding the dates?
 

overedge

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@okokok777 can you clarify why SafeSport didn't launch an investigation as soon as it received the first complaint(s)? Or did it investigate and not find enough evidence to proceed further? (if you are able to discuss either of these - I understand if not).
 

Cherub721

YEAH!
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The facts not in dispute are:
1) Dispenza dared the girl to ask for a dick pic
2) The girl did ask for it
3) Cipres sent it

Reading through this thread I'm not sure if those facts are in dispute or not. What you wrote is how it's presented in the articles. In this post https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/threads/morgan-cipres-charged-in-fl.107854/#post-5913302 it's written that

A few sources have told me that Vinny's request for the pictures came after he got wind of these allegations (specifically, the ones involving the then 13 year old survivor). Granted, these sources didn't witness the actual pizza conversation so I'm not exactly sure if that's the case.

Based on the evidence that I've been able to review, my best guesses for why Vinny asked for the photos are a) he didn't really believe the allegations were true and "jokingly" asked for the photos as proof, only to be surprised when the survivor produced them or b) he asked for the photos in order to confirm the allegations. However, he could've also been asking for the photos for other reasons (manipulation, grooming, harassment, etc.)

After Vinny received the photos (i.e. the video of the survivor opening up the photos in IG since Morgan sent them using the "view-once" function), he allegedly showed them to another coach affiliated with the rink.

This post seems to imply that Dispenza didn't ask the girl to procure the photos from Cipres, but rather, to prove that she already had them, which she did by showing him the video she captured at the time she had viewed the "view-once" photos. That's how I'm reading it, if "these allegations" are the allegations about the pic, unless that's referring to other allegations about Cipres, and the girl surprised Dispenza by requesting and receiving the pics from Cipres right then and there. I have been curious about this and will let @okokok777 clarify in case I am not interpreting it correctly.
 

okokok777

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@okokok777 can you clarify why SafeSport didn't launch an investigation as soon as it received the first complaint(s)? Or did it investigate and not find enough evidence to proceed further? (if you are able to discuss either of these - I understand if not).
Your clarification leaves me even more confused!

The incident happened in the beginning of December 2017 and the therapist was notified by the tutor at the end of Dec. 2017. Presumably the police and the DCF were notified in early 2018.

Did SafeSport have reports before 2019 but no official complaint until August 2019 or I am simply misunderstanding the dates?

So sorry for confusing you, @missing !

@overedge It's a complicated situation - I'll need a bit of time to find a way to describe it without giving out any identifiable information. But, the extremely over-simplified version is that the survivor was terrified of coming forward and the Center can't do very much if the claimant isn't willing or able to cooperate in an investigation.

This post seems to imply that Dispenza didn't ask the girl to procure the photos from Cipres, but rather, to prove that she already had them, which she did by showing him the video she captured at the time she had viewed the "view-once" photos. That's how I'm reading it, if "these allegations" are the allegations about the pic, unless that's referring to other allegations about Cipres, and the girl surprised Dispenza by requesting and receiving the pics from Cipres right then and there. I have been curious about this and will let @okokok777 clarify in case I am not interpreting it correctly.

Not exactly but I completely understand how it came off this way! Vinny did ask her to procure the photos from Cipres. IIRC he (Cipres) sent the photos a couple hours after the pizza conversation but I'd need to double-check. According to evidence I've reviewed, the request came after Vinny got wind of other allegations involving Cipres and the survivor.

I don't ever want to downplay the severity of a 26 year old man knowingly sending nude photos to a 13 year old girl. What I do want to say is that the photo incident is a small piece of this awful puzzle. Hopefully more of the story will be revealed over time and all the parties who've caused so much harm will be sanctioned appropriately.
 

MacMadame

Doing all the things
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Reading through this thread I'm not sure if those facts are in dispute or not.
They are not. Cipres has admitted he sent the photos. So that's #2 and #3 and no one has said Dispenza didn't ask the girls to ask for the dick pic in exchange for pizza.
 

Japanfan

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IMO, yes. I can construct hypothetical scenarios where their intentions may have been well-meaning even if their actions were clearly wrong.
Can you give examples of such scenarios, please?
 
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jlai

Question everything
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I wonder if the skating world is so small and so silo that people living in this world are out of touch with the world outside and what t
So sorry for confusing you, @missing !

@overedge It's a complicated situation - I'll need a bit of time to find a way to describe it without giving out any identifiable information.
And feel free to share only what is public and what can be easily construed. If I were the victim I would not want any more of this discussed. It's not like anyone owes me any explanation.
 

okokok777

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I wonder if the skating world is so small and so silo that people living in this world are out of touch with the world outside and what t

And feel free to share only what is public and what can be easily construed. If I were the victim I would not want any more of this discussed. It's not like anyone owes me any explanation.

100%. I've been carefully choosing my words here and only discussing things that were already made publicly available (both through articles & other avenues) or which I was asked to share.
 

Artistic Skaters

Drawing Figures
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I'm another who doesn't agree with a lifetime ban in every case and acknowledge there are many factors that have to be considered.

One area that is problematic, as has been previously pointed out, has to do with the mandatory reporting. It seems like a temporary suspension or temporary restrictions (i.e. no students under age 18, etc.) for failure to report once a case is opened and a formal investigation is underway would be an effective procedure to implement.

An insurmountable mountain of evidence would not be needed to enforce this because it's pretty clear cut. They either did or did not report it. There either are or are not statements that can be readily obtained from parties or witnesses to support an incident happened that needed to be reported. If so, then applying temporary sanctions would get the point across loud and clear about the importance of mandatory reporting.

Even if the training materials on the sports sites do not cover every exact situation, skating coaches (especially of this level who command the highest rates) are expected to maintain professionalism and that includes seeking out clarification when needed, as well as a knowledge of any state requirements for reporting. While SafeSport and USFS can always work on improvements for the information and resources they provide, the primary responsibility for this needs to remain with the coaches.
 

Prancer

Aun Aprendo
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That statement is inexcusable and wrong. Is it corroborated by independent witnesses or otherwise established as fact? (I'm asking.) AFAIK, Zimmerman and Fontana have denied this.
As far as I know, they issued a general statement denying all the allegations.

And yet here you are
The facts not in dispute are:
So I'm not sure how much their denial is worth. OTOH, I find it highly doubtful that the statement is going to be verified by independent witnesses, something that hardly ever happens in such disputes. What independent witness do you think would have been hanging around when John and Sylvia were talking to the girl and her parents?

Given that the girl's father is a lawyer, however, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if it did come out that there was some kind of record. :shuffle:

For the record, though, I don't think they acted maliciously. In some ways I think it's even worse that they didn't and apparently still don't recognize what they did as wrong.
I wonder if the skating world is so small and so silo that people living in this world are out of touch with the world outside
I would say yes, absolutely, and that this has been demonstrated over and over, both in terms of SafeSport cases and other things. I mean, when Zimmerman knew that Christine Brennan was working on this story, he didn't even think to get a lawyer until the article was published (I would have done that at the first hint that the story was going to come out). Their statement of denial was issued by a publicist. That is just so naive.
 

antmanb

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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.

Thank you for providing the link - I was struggling to find anything more concrete about the disciplinary hearing to get the details.

But for the record I wasn't trying to minimise what Tonya did, If anything I would use the life time ban for Tonya as a reason to give John Zimmerman a longer suspension because 2 years for what he did seems on the light side.
 

misskarne

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3) In Zimmerman's case, without excusing his behavior in the least, it is plausible that he could have believed this whole thing was an unfortunate joke that went wrong.
If he did believe that, which I don't think he did, it would be even worse and grounds for a much longer ban, not any kind of mitigation.

But I don't think he did, and no intelligent person could possibly think he did, either, because of what he did next.
While not excusing Zimmerman's behavior at all, I do think the facts that this (1) was in response to a request by the receiver, (2) upon a dare instigated by another coach both have some relevance. This wasn't a pic sent out of the blue.
You're right. Those things make it worse.
I can construct hypothetical scenarios where their intentions may have been well-meaning even if their actions were clearly wrong.
Oh, please do enlighten us. I can't wait to see what twisted concoctions these will be.

There is absolutely no way bullying an abuse victim into silence could possibly be misconstrued as a good intention, but I'm interested to see how you'll try.
 

ЭPiKUilyam

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For the record, though, I don't think they acted maliciously. In some ways I think it's even worse that they didn't and apparently still don't recognize what they did as wrong.

I would say yes, absolutely, and that this has been demonstrated over and over, both in terms of SafeSport cases and other things. I mean, when Zimmerman knew that Christine Brennan was working on this story, he didn't even think to get a lawyer until the article was published (I would have done that at the first hint that the story was going to come out). Their statement of denial was issued by a publicist. That is just so naive.
I don't think they were being malicious either. They seem like a 'normal' couple, just doing their thing in the world, totally innocuous, nice people. If this event hadn't taken place we'd still say that about them. And that's the sad part. They only were actually tested once on how to behave in this kind of situation and they failed miserably. I can see how they might be thinking (and their friends/family) that they are still wonderful people. If it wasn't for Cipres sending that photo, they never would have had to make "adult" decisions on how to deal with the situation, report to appropriate authorities, etc. They were "innocents" in this, and obviously weren't aware of how serious this matter is/was. I can understand that. I'm not going to think they are awful people. J and S. I wish they would just acknowledge their failure in the matter, apologize, and move on with their punishments. And learn a huge lesson from this. A huge important lesson, especially when their JOBS are dealing with children. I wonder if they wish they had never met Cipres, and their lives would have been just fine for not knowing him. That's how I'd feel.
 

ЭPiKUilyam

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Also, this Vinny dude. Is he still at their rink? He seems like the instigator in all this, and he is a coach, right? He really needs a different career. Why was he fraternizing with 13 y/o girls??? And Cipres? Well, he might have major cultural differences back in France, but really, he never should have even responded to the 13 y/o asking for a DP. Several of my friends' kids are on FB and they've friend requested me. No way. J and S should have immediately fired their friend Vinny, and protected the girl from his presence. It's all such a mess of seemingly clueless adults caught in a state of arrested development. Which I've found very common in skating. Teens acting like they are 30, and adults acting like they are still teens. Coughlin seemed to have gotten caught up in that. And in this matter, Cipres. I thought if it might have been less bad if he had just sent the girl a DP of someone not himself, but that still leads me to wonder "What is he texting a 13 y/o for???" But when you realize that many many adult skaters still have the emotional maturity of a teen, I suppose it makes some sense in this effed up skating world.
 

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