Top US figure skating coach suspended over alleged sexual misconduct

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Tara Lipinski of the USA reacts as her scores flash on the screen during the free skate competition at White Ring Arena during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.Image copyright
Jamie Squire/Getty

Image caption

Richard Callaghan (r) trained Tara Lipinski (c) who went on to win Olympic gold in 1998

A renowned figure skating coach who has mentored Olympic and world champions has been suspended by US Figure Skating, the organisation said.

Richard Callaghan, 72, is barred from any figure skating activities pending a fresh investigation into decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct.

When several male skaters levelled their accusations in the 1990s, the veteran coach “vehemently denied” them.

A watchdog to prevent sexual abuse of athletes will investigate the case.

“US Figure Skating suspended the membership of Richard Callaghan on March 6, 2018, in compliance with the policies and procedures of the US Center for SafeSport,” the sport’s governing board said in a statement on Friday.

Mr Callaghan told ABC News he had not been officially notified of the suspension. He also declined to speak about the allegations.

SafeSport, established last year, examines complaints of sexual abuse and other mistreatment of athletes.

Craig Maurizi, 56, first made his allegations against Mr Callaghan public in a 1999 New York Times article. He is reported to have recently complained to SafeSport but has declined to confirm this.

Now an Olympic coach himself, Mr Maurizi alleged that the coach engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviour with him when he was 15.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Richard Callaghan (l) coached notable figure skaters including 1996 world champion Todd Eldredge (r)

Mr Maurizi also accused Mr Callaghan of abusing his position of authority to begin a full sexual relationship with him starting when he was 18 years old and continuing for a few years.

US Figure Skating acknowledged it looked into Mr Maurizi’s accusations in 1999 but took no action as the alleged wrongdoing dated back to a decade earlier.

Mr Callaghan, known for training Tara Lipinski to an Olympic gold medal in 1998, had been allowed by US Figure Skating to continue coaching.

“Richard Callaghan should not have been coaching for many, many years and this was a chance to end his access to young skaters,” Mr Maurizi told USA Today on Friday.

When the veteran coach was approached by ABC News in Florida, he said he was retired and coaching a few times per week. “No one’s notified me [of the suspension], I just saw a note on a website somewhere,” he said.

When asked about Mr Maurizi’s allegations, he said: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”



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