By Liam Morgan |
US Figure Skating has vowed to “continue to take proactive steps” to help prevent “harmful behavior” and claimed it had acted on every reported incident of suspected sexual abuse following a series of allegations in the sport.
In an open letter, signed by the US Figure Skating leadership, the national governing body claimed it was “heartbroken” by reports of sexual abuse and assault on athletes and claimed it was “working diligently every day to provide a safe and healthy environment for all members”.
It comes after former US figure skater Adam Schmidt filed a lawsuit against coach Richard Callaghan alleging sexual abuse between 1999 and 2001.
The lawsuit was filed a week after Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Wagner told her story of being sexually abused by the late John Coughlin to USA Today.
Wagner was the second athlete to make allegations against Coughlin, who committed suicide the day after he was placed on interim suspension from skating by the US Center for SafeSport.
Bridget Namiotka, one of Coughlin’s former pairs partners, accused him of sexually assaulting her and nine other women in a post on Facebook in May.
His family have blamed his suicide on what they believe to be false sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Following his death, the US Center for SafeSport closed its investigation into Coughlin, despite requests from US Figure Skating to continue.
A culture which “allowed grooming and abuse to go unchecked for too long” was uncovered in figure skating by the US Center for SafeSport during its investigation into Coughlin.
“We support all survivors, and we encourage all victims of abuse to come forward and report it to law enforcement and the US Center for SafeSport or US Figure Skating,” the organization wrote in the open letter,
“Creating and maintaining a safe environment for athletes of all ages to participate in sport is of paramount importance to US Figure Skating.
“We want to reassure you that we are working diligently every day to provide a safe and healthy environment for all members.
“Since May 2000, we have acted upon every reported incident of suspected sexual abuse.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to raise awareness, ensure open and supportive communication exists and educate ourselves and each other on the behaviors of sexual and non-sexual abuse and misconduct.
“We welcome your thoughts, and if you have specific ideas you believe will further strengthen athlete safety for skaters, please email them to SafeSport@usfigureskating.org.
“We all play a role in athlete protection.
“We all have to look out for one another.
“We all have to speak up.
“We all have to use our voices.
“If you are aware or even suspect abuse – report it – abuse has no place in our sport.”
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.