Former figure skater John Coughlin tragically committed suicide back in January and it seemed to have everything to do with the allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him.
In a Jan. 7 email to USA TODAY Sports, Coughlin called the allegations against him “unfounded.”
“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 wrote. “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.”
11 days later, he would take his own life.
Back in May, his former partner, Bridget Namiotka, that she was abused by him for years.
“I’m sorry but John hurt at least 10 people including me. He sexually abused me for 2 years. Nobody innocent hangs themselves,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“Think about the victims when you’re speaking up for what he did to at least 10 girls,” the skater added.
Fast forward to August 2019 and now we have another victim in Ashley Wagner who says she was sexually assaulted by John Coughlin when she was 17 years old. The former U.S. Olympic skater revealed this in a first-person story by USA Today and she said the incident occurred in 2008.
“It was the middle of the night when I felt him crawl into my bed,” Wagner said. “I had been sleeping and didn’t move because I didn’t understand what it meant. I thought he just wanted a place to sleep. But then he started kissing my neck. I pretended to be deep asleep, hoping he would stop. He didn’t. When his hands started to wander, when he started touching me, groping my body, I tried to shift around so that he would think I was waking up and would stop. He didn’t.”
She said Coughlin woke up the next morning acting as if nothing had happened the nigth before, so she did the same.
Wagner told a couple of people about the incident at the time, but ultimately decided not to go to the police.
“I just wanted it to go away. I come from a military family and was trained to put my head down and keep going in the face of adversity. I also was afraid that if I told my parents, they would get mad at me for being at a party, so I kept quiet.
“There also was this: I was a young skater coming up through the ranks in a judged sport. I didn’t want to stir the pot. I didn’t want to add anything to my career that would make me seem undesirable or dramatic. I didn’t want to be known in figure skating as the athlete who would cause trouble. And I genuinely didn’t feel like anyone would listen to me anyway. Everyone really liked this guy. I even liked him.”
There was going to be an investigation on Coughlin for previous claims of sexual misconduct but it was ultimately decided against since he had already committed suicide.
Coughlin hung himself in his father’s Kansas City home one day after he received an interim suspension from the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
The 28-year-old Wagner is a three-time U.S. figure skating national champion and she won a bronze medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics.