U.S. Figure Skating, the governing body of the sport, has agreed to pay $1.45 million to settle a lawsuit alleging one of the most prominent coaches in its history of sexual assault.
Adam Schmidt, now 36, claimed he was sexually assaulted many times as a teen by USFS Olympic Coach Richard Callaghan, now 74. Before the USFS settlement, Schmidt received a $1.75 million settlement from the Onyx Ice Arena. The Detroit ice rink was where Callaghan coached Schmidt – and sexually abused him.
The sexual assaults started in 1999 when Schmidt was just 14 and continued for two years. Schmidt’s lawsuit accused USFS of receiving information about Callaghan’s inappropriate sexual behavior with minors but failing to notify the police, as required by law.
Callaghan has denied Schmidt’s allegations and that of other skaters accusing him of similar behavior. To date, four other male skaters have alleged Callaghan sexually assaulted them.
The USFS banned Callaghan from the sport in 2019. He was best known for coaching gold medal winner Tara Lipinski at the 1998 Winter Olympics and overseeing Todd Eldredge’s three Olympic appearances, his world championship, and six U.S. titles.
Allegations Go Back More Than Two Decades
Other allegations against Callaghan date back more than two decades. In 1999, the New York Times reported that Craig Maurizi, an international figure skater who began training with Callaghan at age 13, accused Callaghan of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with him two years later. By age 18, just after Maurizi graduated from high school, Callaghan initiated a full sexual relationship. This relationship continued off and on until 1997. During that period, the pair coached top skaters, and Lipinski eventually became Maurizi’s student.
Two other students also accused Callaghan of sexual misconduct in 1999. One said Callaghan exposed himself in 1992 in a hotel room, while another said the coach made inappropriate sexual remarks to him in 1994. In the latter case, the skater’s parents questioned Callaghan about the incident.
At the time, Callaghan was married with a grown daughter. After Maurizi’s allegations, Callaghan resigned as competitive skating director at the Detroit Skating Club. He continued to work as a skating consultant until his lifetime ban from figure skating. His suspension came about because Maurizi, then 56, filed a complaint against Callahan with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an organization addressing the issue of child abuse in sports.
Suicide After Allegations
The figure skating world was also rocked by the suicide of John Coughlin, 33, a two-time U.S. pairs champion in early 2019. Coughlin killed himself the day after SafeSport announced his interim suspension after receiving three reports of sexual misconduct against him.
Two of these reports involved minors. One of the victims was the 2014 Olympic team bronze medalist and three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner. She alleged Coughlin assaulted her when she was 17 and he was 22. He had denied the allegations.
Why Wasn’t Something Done?
In January 2017, Schmidt entered the hospital for treatment of psychological trauma. He told his therapist about the sexual abuse. Now he wants to know why the USFS did nothing to stop Callaghan back in 1999. Schmidt notes that 20 years ago, USFS was aware of his behavior and did nothing. He adds that if USFS had acted, he would never have been abused.
Victims of sexual harassment in sports are subject to strict time limits to take action. As soon as an incident occurs, you should contact a Whistleblower Law Group sexual harassment lawyer so that we evaluate your case and begin protecting your rights.
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