Sun, Aug 11, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Skater sues ex-coach over molestation

AP, LOS ANGELES

A former member of the US national figure skating team said in a lawsuit on Friday that he was sexually molested as a teenager by a coach about whom the sport’s governing body had ignored complaints.

Adam Schmidt sued coach Richard Callaghan and US Figure Skating in San Diego County Superior Court.

He is seeking unspecified damages for several counts, including negligence, sexual harassment, and assault and sexual battery that he said began in 1999 when he was 14.

Schmidt, once known as Adam Baadani, quit a promising skating career because of the physical and emotional toll from the abuse, his lawyer said.

“Our client is an extremely talented young athlete who dreamed of nothing more than to stand on an Olympic podium and hear our national anthem,” attorney John Manly said.

“The US Figure Skating Association and the ice rinks where Callaghan worked ignored complaints against him for years. If they had done their legal duty in 1999 and reported Callaghan to the police, our client and other children could have been protected from this monster,” he added.

Callaghan, who trained Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, was suspended last year by the US Center for SafeSport, the US Olympic Committee’s misconduct watchdog, after another skater said he had been abused 20 years ago.

Callaghan’s lawyer in Michigan said that his client had not been served with the suit or told about Schmidt’s allegations.

“Mr Callaghan denies any wrongdoing at any time,” attorney Dean Groulx said in a statement.

Callaghan was accused of sexual misconduct by a former student in a 1999 New York Times article. Craig Maurizi, who later became an assistant to Callaghan in San Diego, California, and Detroit, Michigan, said that the coach began inappropriate sexual contact with him when he was 15 years old.

The article also detailed complaints against Callaghan in 1991 by other students, including making sexual advances, inappropriate remarks and exposing himself to a former student in a hotel room. Callaghan denied the allegations.

The lawsuit said that US Figure Skating said it reviewed the allegations raised in the article, but dismissed them because the victim had not filed a grievance within 60 days of the alleged incident.

US Figure Skating declined to comment, citing its policy on pending litigation.

It said in a statement that it supports victims of sexual abuse and encourages them to report misconduct.

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