Peter Oppegard being investigated over abuse allegations

CellarDweller

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I just saw this on Google news, if this is being discussed somewhere else, I apologize. I did a quick search and didn't see any threads on it

US Olympic medalist and figure skating coach being investigated over allegations of abuse

By Christine Brennan - 02/18/2021

The U.S. Center for SafeSport is investigating 1988 U.S. Olympic pairs bronze medalist and renowned figure skating coach Peter Oppegard over allegations of physical abuse, according to emails obtained by USA TODAY Sports and two people questioned by SafeSport.

Oppegard, a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, allegedly bit a teenage female skater on the arm during a 2013 training session, according to the skater, her mother and a person who was present in the rink and said they saw the bite mark immediately afterward.

The SafeSport investigation, which has been ongoing since July, is also looking into allegations that Oppegard threw hot water and coffee at skaters he coached on multiple occasions at East West Ice Palace in Artesia, California, where he worked from 2005 until he left in 2018, according to two people who witnessed Oppegard’s actions and have discussed them with SafeSport, and who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.

Oppegard did not respond Wednesday and Thursday to emails and voicemails on his cell phone requesting comment.

 

ice_tulip

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This is just shocking and revolting. Biting a student on the arm? What in the world was he thinking? If this guy bites his student in public, imagine what kind of abuse he inflicts upon others behind closed doors. I hope Karen Kwan is keeping herself and their children safe from this monster.
 

ladyjane

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I also just saw this, and was quite shocked. I mean: biting? Throwing hot tea (coffee too but the temperature generally is a bit lower) to students? Of course, I know spilling hot tea, can happen but this looks like deliberately causing awful burns, not spilling. Burns and bites. It's horrific.
 

mrrice

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I was just wondering if this was Karan Kwan's Husband. This is truly shocking. I can't imagine biting a student of mine. What is wrong with these people. They are being paid to coach, not abuse their position. Poor Karen, I hope they send him straight to anger management and ban him from coaching. I imagine Lawsuits will follow now that this has become public.
 
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ladyjane

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I was just wondering if this was Karan Kwan's Husband. This is truly shocking. I can't imagine biting a student of mine. What is wrong with these people. They are being paid to coach, not abuse their position. Poor Karen, I hope they send him straight to anger management and ban him from coaching.
Yes, this was Karen Kwans husband. And I agree...biting? I can imagine a lot of things, but biting or deliberately throwing tea? Really. Indeed, what is wrong with these people?
 

Finley

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I'm trying to imagine being a parent; paying exorbitant amounts of money towards coaching fees; then seeing a bruise with teeth-marks on her body. Then finding out it came from her coach. Then allowing my daughter to convince me not to say anything about this because it would 'only make things worse.' Then continuing to pay this man to coach my daughter.

This culture has to change. He did these things because he could and everyone around him LET HIM. Without consequence. For years.

I want to believe that I would have knocked this mans teeth out with a pipe for hurting any child much less my daughter.
 

mrrice

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I'm trying to imagine being a parent; paying exorbitant amounts of money towards coaching fees; then seeing a bruise with teeth-marks on her body. Then finding out it came from her coach. Then allowing my daughter to convince me not to say anything about this because it would 'only make things worse.' Then continuing to pay this man to coach my daughter.

This culture has to change. He did these things because he could and everyone around him LET HIM. Without consequence. For years.

I want to believe that I would have knocked this mans teeth out with a pipe for hurting any child much less my daughter.
I agree, If he would behave this way in public, I can only imagine what life was like for Karen and their children in the privacy of their home. I'm sure he will receive, or at least he should receive a lifetime Ban from Coaching. I think he might be facing jail time and lawsuits will be in his future.
 
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Finley

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I agree, If he would behave this way in public, I can only imagine what life was like for Karen and their children in the privacy of their home. I'm sure he will receive, or at least he should receive a lifetime Ban from Coaching. I think he might be facing jail time and lawsuits will be in his future.
It's terrifying to think about. From what I read today Karen was a teenaged student of his when he began a relationship with her.

He also coached John Zimmerman. Who is now standing accused of failing to respond appropriately to allegations involving a teenage student at his rink. This culture of silence surrounding abuse is allowing it to continue through generations and be normalized.

I am not blaming victims or parents, but I feel strongly that parents have to be the ones to report these things. There is no one else. The children can't be held responsible for reporting it. The co-workers and anyone else who profits from the abuser can't be depended upon to report these incidents. Clearly, FS Feds aren't going to do anything. The parents are literally the last hope.

What we can do, as fans, is believe them, support them and amplify their voices.
 

Ic3Rabbit

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It's terrifying to think about. From what I read today Karen was a teenaged student of his when he began a relationship with her.

He also coached John Zimmerman. Who is now standing accused of failing to respond appropriately to allegations involving a teenage student at his rink. This culture of silence surrounding abuse is allowing it to continue through generations and be normalized.

I am not blaming victims or parents, but I feel strongly that parents have to be the ones to report these things. There is no one else. The children can't be held responsible for reporting it. The co-workers and anyone else who profits from the abuser can't be depended upon to report these incidents. Clearly, FS Feds aren't going to do anything. The parents are literally the last hope.

What we can do, as fans, is believe them, support them and amplify their voices.
Actually, Karen was never a student of his IIRC, she was coached by Frank Carroll until she retired to go to Boston U.
 

ice_tulip

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I just read that they are "Estranged" but not officially divorced. How terrible for their children.

Yes, a quick google search shows that Karen filed for divorce in November 2017 but the divorce still hasn't gone through. The last docket entry was from April 2019 for mediation. I would hope this incident would help speed things along somehow and give Karen full custody of the kids. Someone abusive like him should not be allowed anywhere near children, even his own, unless under direct supervision.
 

brightphoton

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I'm trying to imagine being a parent; paying exorbitant amounts of money towards coaching fees; then seeing a bruise with teeth-marks on her body. Then finding out it came from her coach. Then allowing my daughter to convince me not to say anything about this because it would 'only make things worse.' Then continuing to pay this man to coach my daughter.

This culture has to change. He did these things because he could and everyone around him LET HIM. Without consequence. For years.

I want to believe that I would have knocked this mans teeth out with a pipe for hurting any child much less my daughter.

What's sad is that the girl who Oppegard bit wasn't the one who filed the complaint with Safesport. Which means that there were enough other abuse victims to start a SafeSport investigation. And who knows how many more victims there are out there, who are staying silent?

Pairs skater Jessica Pfund told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview Tuesday evening that Oppegard bit her after becoming furious with her during a practice session in 2013, when she was 15.

“He was helping to position me on the ice to show me a landing position on a jump. Both of his hands were holding me, and he leaned over and bit me on the skin on my upper right arm, near the bicep,” Pfund said. “I remember being completely baffled why he did it,” she said. “I went home with a bruise and a bite mark on my arm. My mom said, ‘I can see the teeth marks.’"

Jessica Pfund said the bruise lasted for at least a week.

She said she and her mother talked about what to do about the incident at home that night. “I asked my mom not to say anything about it because every time she would try, everything would get worse with him, our lessons and the criticism would get worse. It was better to say nothing.”

Pfund said she and her mother also were concerned about what might happen to Karen Kwan and the couple’s two daughters if they reported Oppegard to U.S. Figure Skating, the national governing body for the sport. SafeSport did not exist at the time; it opened in March 2017 to investigate abuse in Olympic sports.

“His kids were so young and we felt that if we reported him, we might affect their family,” she said.
Michelle Kwan owns the East West ice rink, hm. Does the Kwan family has liability for this? Obviously running a rink with an abusive coach is bad for business and PR, but maybe students feared reprisals from the owners if they accused a family member of abuse. I don't know how many ice rinks there are in Los Angeles. If they got exiled or kicked out from East West, would there be another ice rink that they could take their business to?
 

mrrice

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What's sad is that the girl who Oppegard bit wasn't the one who filed the complaint with Safesport. Which means that there were enough other abuse victims to start a SafeSport investigation. And who knows how many more victims there are out there, who are staying silent?


Michelle Kwan owns the East West ice rink, hm. Does the Kwan family has liability for this? Obviously running a rink with an abusive coach is bad for business and PR, but maybe students feared reprisals from the owners if they accused a family member of abuse. I don't know how many ice rinks there are in Los Angeles. If they got exiled or kicked out from East West, would there be another ice rink that they could take their business to?
There are several rinks in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. However, the prestige of skating at Michelle Kwan's Rink is huge for all the skaters who looked up to, and continue to look up to the Kwan Family. I believe these coaches are hired by the skaters, not the rink, so I'm not sure how much responsibility lies with the Kwan's. Most skaters rent, or book, Ice Time and are basically let into the rink by the staff and then they're on their own. I imagine Peter had keys since he was married to Karen.
 

TontoK

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A grown man bit a child under his care? Are you kidding me?

He wouldnt' have had to worry about a SafeSport report had he done this to my son.
 

mrrice

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A grown man bit a child under his care? Are you kidding me?

He wouldnt' have had to worry about a SafeSport report had he done this to my son.
I tell you what, If he has ever been reported before this incident, I would have a serious problem with SafeSport. Clearly, he had no fear of being reported or he never would have done this in public.
 

anonymoose_au

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Is Safe Sport even the first port of call in this instance? Like this isn't some sort of nebulous thing like a coach yelling or something. This is bodily assault, a serious crime, it really should be reported to the police.

The problem with that is the reporting process to police is generally so intimidating you can't really blame a 15 year old for not wanting to go through with it.

I'm starting to wonder...perhaps all figure skating trainings need to be filmed by security cameras. It's sad, but one can imagine abusive coaches would be waaaay less likely to engage in abusive behaviour if they know they're being recorded. And if they can't then there'll be video evidence and victims will no longer be accused of making things up, in fact they wouldn't even need to testify or face the abuser.

Of course...they can't have security cameras everywhere - certainly not in change rooms or bathrooms. It may have to come to the point where coaches cannot engage with athletes except in public and any breach of this (asking the athlete to come into their office or step outside) will result in consequences, even if there's no malice intended. It's a pretty serious reaction, but then abuse is a very serious thing.
 

mrrice

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Is Safe Sport even the first port of call in this instance? Like this isn't some sort of nebulous thing like a coach yelling or something. This is bodily assault, a serious crime, it really should be reported to the police.

The problem with that is the reporting process to police is generally so intimidating you can't really blame a 15 year old for not wanting to go through with it.

I'm starting to wonder...perhaps all figure skating trainings need to be filmed by security cameras. It's sad, but one can imagine abusive coaches would be waaaay less likely to engage in abusive behaviour if they know they're being recorded. And if they can't then there'll be video evidence and victims will no longer be accused of making things up, in fact they wouldn't even need to testify or face the abuser.

Of course...they can't have security cameras everywhere - certainly not in change rooms or bathrooms. It may have to come to the point where coaches cannot engage with athletes except in public and any breach of this (asking the athlete to come into their office or step outside) will result in consequences, even if there's no malice intended. It's a pretty serious reaction, but then abuse is a very serious thing.
I agree. Plus, Peter was a very successful coach for quite a while. I have a feeling that people looked the other way due to that success. People will endure a lot to make their child a champion.
 

katymay

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Yes, a quick google search shows that Karen filed for divorce in November 2017 but the divorce still hasn't gone through. The last docket entry was from April 2019 for mediation. I would hope this incident would help speed things along somehow and give Karen full custody of the kids. Someone abusive like him should not be allowed anywhere near children, even his own, unless under direct supervision.
I'm assuming at his age the kids are grown and gone.
 
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