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A figure skater has accused her former peer, John Coughlin — a figure skater who reportedly died by suicide earlier this year — of sexually assaulting her when she was a teen. Her accusation comes on the heels of another skater's similar accusation, following Coughlin's death.
In a detailed USA Today piece published Thursday, skater Ashley Wagner accused Coughlin of sexually assaulting her in 2008 when she was 17 and he was 22.
The alleged incident took place in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after a national figure skating team party.
Wagner, now 28, said that she went to sleep at the house where the party was held.
“It was the middle of the night when I felt him crawl into my bed,” she 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 went on to say that “ it's haunted me ever since.”
Wagner said that in the years following the incident, and even recently, she struggled over whether or not to publicly accuse Coughlin of assault.
“Over the past few months, as I decided to tell this story, I wrestled with using John's name,” she said. “He was a prominent figure skater who died by suicide in January, and so I fully understand the issues with naming him. But a name can shape so much of how my story is perceived. Without it, I know people will question my credibility.”
She went on to say, though, “This is not about a name. This is about the environment that allowed for that act to happen. I want the issue to feel real to people, and for them to understand the dynamics of my sport, where uncomfortable power imbalances thrive to this day.”
Wagner joins skater Bridget Namiotka, who was Coughlin’s former skating partner, in making sexual assault allegations against him.
“I’m sorry but john hurt at least 10 people including me,” she wrote on Facebook in May. “He sexually abused me for 2 years. Nobody innocent hangs themself [sic].”
Coughlin, 33, was found dead a month after he was put on restricted eligibility by U.S. Center for SafeSport, an organization that investigates bullying and physical and sexual abuse in sports, the New York Post reports. He was reportedly being investigated for allegations of abuse.
Her comments and posts were in response to a now-deleted link.
Namiotka had teamed with Coughlin from 2004 to 2007, USA Today reports, meaning that she would have between the ages of 14 and 17 while he was 18 to 21. Together they won three medals on the Junior Grand Prix series. They also placed in the 2007 U.S. national championships.
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