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Another high-level sports coach faces sexual molestation allegations; this time impacting top U.S. figure skaters.
Adam Schmidt filed a complaint against Richard Callaghan in San Diego last week, indicating that the once-prominent figure-skating coach molested him repeatedly from 1999 to 2001. The incidents reportedly occurred after Callaghan was publicly accused of sexual misconduct by another former male skater, but was allowed to continue coaching for years.
Schmidt was once a member of the U.S. National Figure Skating Team, and indicates that he was sexually molested by Callaghan at an ice-skating rink in Rochester, Michigan, where the coach worked. Both the ice rink and the U.S. Figure Skating Association are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Callaghan is most famously known for coaching figure skater Tara Lipinski to an Olympic gold medal in 1998. A year later, a former skater and assistant coach, Craig Maurizi, claimed Callaghan had leveraged his position as his coach and colleague into an inappropriate sexual relationship, which lasted for two decades. However, despite entreaties by Maurizi for Callaghan to be removed from coaching, he was allowed to continue.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is the U.S. Olympic agency that oversees sexual abuse allegations, finally suspended Callaghan from coaching last year, following additional charges of sexual misconduct. The nature of those claims have not been made public, and it is unclear whether they are related to Schmidt’s claims or those of another skater.
U.S. Figure Skating issued a letter (PDF) to its members on August 12, addressing the allegations and claims that it failed to do its duty by removing Callaghan sooner. The letter detailed the organization’s policies in addressing abuse claims and sought to reassure members that it has zero tolerance for inappropriate conduct.
“As leaders in U.S. Figure Skating, let us be very clear: U.S. Figure Skating does not tolerate abuse or misconduct and there is no place for such behavior in sports or anywhere in life. Creating and maintaining a safe environment for athletes of all ages to participate in sport is of paramount importance to U.S. Figure Skating,” the letter states. “We want to reassure you that we are working diligently every day to provide a safe and healthy environment for all members.”
U.S. Figure Skating is the latest U.S. Olympic sports organization to face charges that it failed to adequately protect young athletes, often involving minors who were exposed to known or suspected sexual predators.
Other Olympic Sports Sex Abuse Claims
Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor from Michigan State University, was convicted to up to 175 years in prison in July 2017 and February 2018, after he plead guilty to a total of 10 counts of sexual assault on minors. He is suspected of having molested at least 250 athletes.
In December, a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation concluded that the U.S. Olympic Committee prioritized its reputation and image over the safety of its child athletes.
Similar findings were published by an independent investigation group hired by USOC. Those investigators reported that they found that Nassar was able to commit thousands of sexual assaults due to an environment that allowed his predatory nature to thrive.
USOC and USA Gymnastics face a number of individual and class action lawsuits over its failure to prevent the abuses.
There have also been a number of sexual abuse lawsuits brought against USA Diving for alleged incidents of assault by coaches in that Olympic sport as well.