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Thread: US Coaches restricted by SafeSport

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    US Coaches restricted by SafeSport

    John Coughlin, a two-time U.S. pairs figure skating champion and a fixture at skating competitions and rinks around the country as a coach, TV commentator and chair of the International Skating Union’s Athletes Commission, had his eligibility to participate in his sport restricted Dec. 17 by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

    The U.S. Center for SafeSport opened in 2017 with the aim to end all forms of abuse in sport. It has exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of sexual misconduct but also looks into other forms of abuse.

    Later Monday afternoon, Coughlin responded to an email seeking comment.

    "While I wish I could speak freely about the unfounded allegations levied against me, the SafeSport rules prevent me from doing so since the case remains pending," he said. "I note only that the SafeSport notice of allegation itself stated that an allegation in no way constitutes a finding by SafeSport or that there is any merit to the allegation."

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sport...rt/2506060002/

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    Let's add this to the mix: https://eu.northjersey.com/story/new...ct/2501995002/

    Is a figure skating scandal about to break out?

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    I live close to the rink in Hackensack and it is crazy here. Apparently most coaches in the area believe the allegations are unfounded.

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    GS Supporter noskates's Avatar
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    What irritates me is the smoke and mirrors and innuendoes. IF the charges are unfounded than a man's livelyhood has been compromised. I don't tolerate abuse of any kind but for Safesport to put out an announcement such as this leaves much to everyone's imagination and interpretation. Why not wait until the charges are proven or disproven.

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    I don't think harassment and sexual abuse cases are initiated or taken to this level willy nilly.

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    Bona Fide Member StitchMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noskates View Post
    What irritates me is the smoke and mirrors and innuendoes. IF the charges are unfounded than a man's livelyhood has been compromised. I don't tolerate abuse of any kind but for Safesport to put out an announcement such as this leaves much to everyone's imagination and interpretation. Why not wait until the charges are proven or disproven.
    But frankly that is a problem with society. We should not judge a person based on accusations, we should not compromise a person's livelyhood based on accusations. Frankly we should understand that things happen and have we have to let things shake out.

    Someone felt they needed to say something. That is ok. We as a society should not have an issue with someone saying something about John, but also should not have any issues with John at this point.

    In order for things to get better... we have to let investigations like this happen without it negatively impacting the person being investigated.

    Frankly we as a society need to rethink how we react to accusations and investigations.

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    Coughlin has resigned as a brand ambassador for John Wilson Blades: https://twitter.com/JohnWilsonBlade/...73213845454848

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    Quote Originally Posted by noskates View Post
    What irritates me is the smoke and mirrors and innuendoes. IF the charges are unfounded than a man's livelyhood has been compromised. I don't tolerate abuse of any kind but for Safesport to put out an announcement such as this leaves much to everyone's imagination and interpretation.
    (EDIT 1/19: It looks like SafeSport only follows up on sexual allegations and refers nonsexual ones to each sport's governing body, but this was not clear when I wrote the following, and still isn't to some extent, hence adding this warning instead of deleting the following: )

    +1

    SafeSport also covers bullying, physical abuse, etc. If he did anything at all, he could have smacked a backtalking skater across the face, made a male skater cry and then called him a pathetic sissy for crying, or any number of other things, but in this day and age, the majority of people are going to assume or at least strongly suspect that it was something sexual.

    The article even says, "The U.S. Center for SafeSport opened in 2017 with the aim to end all forms of abuse in sport. It has exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of sexual misconduct but also looks into other forms of abuse." Why not go into detail about what other forms? The skating magazine I get with my club membership had a full-page SafeSport ad that mostly emphasized the program's handling of bullying, so why only specifically mention sexual misconduct in the article?

    Why not wait until the charges are proven or disproven.
    Now, this is trickier, because if they are true, parents shouldn't have to wait for the investigation to be finished before getting their kids away from a potentially wrongdoing coach. But they can certainly report it in a way that emphasizes "innocent until proven guilty" and provides a balanced view of what kind of misdeeds SafeSport handles without overemphasizing one or the other.
    Last edited by hanyuufan5; 01-19-2019 at 11:02 AM. Reason: New information

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    I just searched and looked up all the figure skating decisions from Safesport. John is not in good company. If he is innocent of charges, he would be the first in Safesport history.
    Then again, there's a first for everything.

    90% of the figure skating historical allegations/final decisions are sexual in nature. I notice that Richard Callaghan, who was accused by then underage boys, is filed under general "misconduct."

    https://safesport.org/userviolations/search

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    ¿No ven quién soy yo? gravy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noskates View Post
    What irritates me is the smoke and mirrors and innuendoes. IF the charges are unfounded than a man's livelyhood has been compromised. I don't tolerate abuse of any kind but for Safesport to put out an announcement such as this leaves much to everyone's imagination and interpretation. Why not wait until the charges are proven or disproven.
    This is how accusations should work. I agree with @hanyuufan5 that parents shouldn't have to wait for an abuser to be convicted before being removed from working with children. In most cases where adults work with children (teachers, coaches in sports with good anti-abuse rules, etc.), an accused person is put on leave for the duration of the investigation. If someone was truly innocent, a false accusation (which are incredibly rare) I don't think would have much bearing on their career.

    As for how SafeSport handles it's issues... I definitely have problems with them. They are an incompetent mess at the moment... I believe the head of the organization announced her leave this week because an investigation said they did not hold organizations or accused people accountable. To put it into skating terms: the BV of what SafeSport wanted to do was huge but the execution was awful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    …. If he is innocent of charges, he would be the first in Safesport history.
    Then again, there's a first for everything. ...
    In gymnastics, SafeSport cleared at least two individuals of allegations in 2018, as reported by The Arizona Republic. One was the well-known Alex Naddour.

    … Olympic bronze medal-winning gymnast Alex Naddour of Queen Creek has been cleared of a sexual misconduct allegation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. ...

    Naddour is the second Phoenix area gymnastics clearing this year by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Dan Witenstein, owner of Arizona Sunrays, was cleared July 21 of a misconduct allegation that also landed him on the USA Gymnastics suspended list. ...


    https://www.azcentral.com/story/spor...rt/1283769002/ (Nov 25)

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    ^obviously I meant that for figure skating, not every sport ever in the history of ever -_- being a skating forum and all

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    Aleksandra Trusova: Driving Quads, Jumping Quads Edwin's Avatar
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    In the US there is at least some initiative to prevent children and youths from being physically, psychologically and sexually abused by adults in charge of them.

    Since figure skaters often start at a very early age and spend lots of time in the rinks, how is this dealt with in Russia for instance?

    I couldn't find anything on this sensitive and unpleasant matter during my perusal of the large Sambo-70 website. No mention of a helpline, or even athlete and parental guides on how to recognise and report inappropriate behaviour of coaches and staff. There are links on reporting corruption and terrorism though, and for kids on how to travel safely and to keep yourself safe on social media etc.
    So going up a level to the even bigger MosKomSport website also gave nil results initially, but there are numbers of various hotlines to be found deep inside the website.

    As if the problem doesn't exist in Russia, where unprotected sex, STD's, teenage pregnancy, single parentage, domestic violence are big social problems, marital rape goes mostly unpunished, homophobia is widespread and many things worse.

    Not the easiest subjects to discuss here, but perhaps some people living in Russia and concerned over this can provide us with some information in a separate thread?
    Last edited by GS Forum Staff; 01-08-2019 at 03:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    ^obviously I meant that for figure skating, not every sport ever in the history of ever -_- being a skating forum and all
    It was not obvious to me.
    In any case, I stand by my post as a relevant addition to this thread within a figure-skating forum.
    Given the serious nature of any discussion of any allegations, I think that clarity is important.

    Regarding the figure-skating allegations, I am one of the all-too-distant observers here on GS. My reaction is subject to change, depending on what other information becomes available to the public.
    For now, the two recent non-figure-skating examples of clearance from allegations reinforce my tentative initial reaction to the figure-skating allegations of "innocent until proven guilty."

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    Quote Originally Posted by pearly View Post
    Is a figure skating scandal about to break out?
    I am surprised it has taken so long.

    From what I have heard, it has been a long time in coming. This comment is not directed at these specific cases but in regards to general attitudes.

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    Does anyone know if there's a police investigation? Coughlin was not speaking through a lawyer, and there was no mention of police or lawyers, so does that imply that the allegation was not of anything illegal?


    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin View Post
    As if the problem doesn't exist in Russia, where unprotected sex, STD's, teenage pregnancy, single parentage, domestic violence are big social problems, marital rape goes mostly unpunished, homophobia is widespread and many things worse.
    Those are problems in many if not all countries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ice coverage View Post
    It was not obvious to me.
    In any case, I stand by my post as a relevant addition to this thread within a figure-skating forum.
    Given the serious nature of any discussion of any allegations, I think that clarity is important.

    Regarding the figure-skating allegations, I am one of the all-too-distant observers here on GS. My reaction is subject to change, depending on what other information becomes available to the public.
    For now, the two recent non-figure-skating examples of clearance from allegations reinforce my tentative initial reaction to the figure-skating allegations of "innocent until proven guilty."
    When gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was first accused by "only" 3 women, Twistar gymnastics released a public statement of support for him and dismissed the unfound allegations of sexual assault. The university he worked at also asked students to sign a get well-card-soon because poor Larry was having so much psychological stress, dealing with the allegations.

    So, I'm wary of showing too much support for the innocence side. ymmv

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    You know who else might not have wanted the media spotlight and who also fears for what these accusations might do to their life and livelihood? The person(s) who made the accusations. As far as I can tell, the person(s) did not go to social media or conventional media to talk about these allegations but instead apparently went through the proper channels thus the first time we are hearing about it is when it is already going through a process at SafeSports. You can doubt TSL's motivations or methods but they have proven to have insider info about things happening in the skating world and the impression I got from when they talked about it is that they only were tipped off about the entry to SafeSports and didn't seem to hear of anything suspicious before that about this particular case.

    With this now out in the open, I can definitely see people in the skating world trying to figure out what happened and to who. People might be careful not to write the name of the accusers without their consent but that does not stop people inside the skating community openly speculating about it and even taking sides. And this person(s) is going against somebody who is not only well-respected but carried various important roles in U.S. skating. By accusing such a person, whether true or not, they risk alienation from the skating community and whatever prospects they might have in it.

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    We don't know all the details, but I dont have much trust in SafeSport. They ignored reports and complaints by WAG gymnasts and neglected all signs of troubles inside the USAG and USOC. A simple question to SafeSport: How in the world the abuse of this magnitude had gone undetected for so long?

    SafeSport is not the police and they are not child protection services. They are retired Olympians and bunch of some sort of legal experts. I'm not sure about their jurisdictions, rights and responsibilities. But this case might be a just witch hunt. They are trying to prove they are actually not completely useless? Not good enough. Especially if this case will fall apart in court without any solid evidence or will be disregarded as "misunderstanding". Problem is that Coughlin's reputation is already ruined and never be the same again, whatever the outcome would be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexz View Post
    We don't know all the details, but I dont have much trust in SafeSport. They ignored reports and complaints by WAG gymnasts and neglected all signs of troubles inside the USAG and USOC. A simple question to SafeSport: How in the world the abuse of this magnitude had gone undetected for so long?
    But it's the other way around, isn't it? The SafeSport Center was created only in 2017, mostly in response to the gymnastics case which went back to the 1990s but came fully to light only in 2017.

    The problem with these organizations (the drug compliance folks, too), is that they have quasi-legal powers but they report only to the USOC or to the individual sports governing bodies. They are not the police. They are not officers of the courts.

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