A top United States figure skating coach has been suspended nearly two decades after his male students first raised sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The U.S. Figure Skating committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee’s misconduct watchdog group — the U.S. Center for SafeSport — added renowned coach Richard Callaghan to a roster alongside dozens of banned and suspended members late Wednesday night.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport deferred comment to U.S. Figure Skating but noted they always report matters involving minors to law enforcement.
U.S. Figure Skating confirmed Callaghan had been suspended “in compliance with the policies and procedures of the U.S. Center for SafeSport,” the organization said in a statement.
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“This action prohibits Callaghan from participating, in any capacity, in any activity or competition authorized by, organized by, or under the auspices of U.S. Figue Skating, the U.S. Olympic Committee and all the USOC-member National Governing Bodies, including U.S. Figure Skating-member clubs and/or organizations.”
Callaghan— best known for coaching Tara Lipinski to an Olympic gold in 1998 as well as a slew of other national and world titles— earlier this week was listed as a coach with the Florida Everglades Skating Club.
His information has since been removed from the club’s website.
Callaghan also served as the longtime coach for Todd Eldredge, the 1996 world champion and a six-time U.S. national champion.
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Callaghan, who did not respond to request for comment Friday, kicked off his career as a professional skater in 1967, touring with the Ice Capades and Holiday on Ice before transitioning to coaching just five years later. He worked in Rochester, Philadelphia, Colorado Springs and San Diego before landing in Detroit in 1992.
The coach announced his resignation as director of the Detroit Skating Club in 1999, saying he would retire from the competitive side of the sport at the end of the season.
The following month, The New York Times published a bombshell report in which one of his former student and coaching partner, Craig Maurizi, alleged Callaghan engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with him when he was 15 years old. Callaghan was in his 30s at the time.
Maurizi, now 56 and an Olympic coach himself, claimed Callaghan used his position of authority to manipulate him into a sexual relationship throughout his teen years. It continued until he was 22 and then on and off for the next 12 years, Maurizi said.
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“At the time I thought the sex was consensual. Now, when I look back, I don’t think it was consensual,” he told the times in April 1999. “I don’t care how old a student is, whether it’s a boy or a girl, a coach should never have sex with a student.
“The coach is a person the athlete looks up to for leadership and to be a role model. I don’t think people understand the influence they can exert over students. People need to be more aware of this.”
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Maurizi filed a sexual misconduct complaint against Callaghan in March 1999, but it was dismissed several months later. The USFS, then referred to as the U.S. Figure Skating Association, ruled Maurizi had not lodged his accusations within 60 days of the alleged wrongdoing as is required by the national governing board.
Callaghan has long denied the allegations, saying they stem from Maurizi’s efforts to steal his skaters.
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Maurizi, who assisted Callaghan during the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, parted ways with Callaghan a year later — and he took Lipinski, fresh off her gold medal win, with him.
Two other skaters and students of Callaghan also said they experienced inappropriate behavior from their coach. Eddy Zeidler told the Times Callaghan exposed himself to him in a hotel room in 1992 while Roman Fraden alleged his coach made inappropriate sexual remarks to him two years later.
Callaghan’s suspension, first reported by ABC, is pending a new investigation into the 19-year-old misconduct allegations.
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The Associated Press