- An American figure skater who died by suicide in January has been accused of sexual abuse by his former skating partner.
- Bridget Namiotka, 29, wrote in a series of Facebook posts on Sunday that John Coughlin, 33, had abused her for two years.
- Coughlin had faced three sexual-misconduct complaints filed with the US Center for SafeSport in January when he took his own life.
- Shortly before his death, he called the allegations “unfounded.”
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
The American figure-skater John Coughlin, who died by suicide at age 33 in January, was accused of sexual abuse on Sunday in a series of Facebook posts from his former skating partner, Bridget Namiotka.
“I’m sorry but John hurt at least 10 people including me. He sexually abused me for 2 years. Nobody innocent hangs themself,” Namiotka, 29, wrote on her public profile.
She went on to urge people to “think about all of the girls he hurt” and explained that she had been groomed.
“Someone that’s innocent doesn’t hang himself. Think about the victims when you’re speaking up for what he did to at least 10 girls,” she continued. “Grooming happens. It happened to me and he hurt a lot of the girls.”
Coughlin was a two-time US pairs champion, and he was partnered with Namiotka between 2004 to 2007, when she was 14 to 17 years old.
Namiotka’s attorney, John Manly, confirmed to USA Today that Namiotka had written the posts, and that he’s representing her and two other people who have accused Coughlin of abuse.
Coughlin’s agent, Tara Modlin, suggested to the newspaper that Namiotka was “unstable.”
“It seems that you want me to comment on an unstable persons [sic] Facebook comment,” she said.
Coughlin had been suspended amid sexual-misconduct allegations
Rumours of sexual misconduct had circled Coughlin since January, according to USA Today. The newspaper reported that he had faced three sexual misconduct complaints against him, filed with the US Center for SafeSport.
Two of the reports involved people who were minors at the time of the alleged misconduct.
As a result, Coughlin was suspended from the sport just ahead of the national figure-skating championships. Coughlin was found dead in his father’s home on January 18.
In the weeks before his death, Coughlin had called the allegations against him “unfounded,” but told USA Today he couldn’t comment further while the case against him was still open.
“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 told the newspaper in an email. “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.”
A SafeSport representative told INSIDER it’s “inaccurate” that the organisation’s rules bar people from speaking publicly – either about allegations against them, or allegations they are reporting against another person.
“The Center does not impose any restrictions on a Claimant’s or Respondent’s ability to discuss the incident, their participation in the Center’s process, or the outcome of that process,” the organisation’s rules say.
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