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Monday, February 26, 2024

2 women accuse former Olympic figure skater of sexual abuse in lawsuit

Two women recently filed a lawsuit claiming they were sexually abused for years by their ice skating coach, a former Olympic figure skater, in misconduct the lawsuit says should’ve been obvious to other adults around them.

The plaintiffs were listed as “Jane Doe 1” and “Jane Doe 2” and defendants were also given similarly anonymous names in the federal action filed in Columbia, South Carolina, on Jan. 24.

Defendants include the coach, called “John Roe”; the “ABC Skating Federation,” based in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and “XYZ Skating Rink Inc.,” in Irmo, South Carolina, which — according to the lawsuit — employed the coach.

“ABC Skating Federation” isn’t identified by name in the lawsuit, but U.S. Figure Skating, the national governing body of the sport, is based in Colorado Springs.

Representatives for U.S. Figure Skating could not be immediately reached for comment by NBC News on Monday.

The coach accused of misconduct no longer lives in South Carolina and now resides in Nevada, the lawsuit said.

The coach first met Jane Doe 1 in 2020 and immediately heaped inappropriate praise in a persistent grooming pattern that led her to meet him at a hotel on Jan. 28, 2023, where he raped her, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe No. 2 first began being coached by the defendant in 2018 when she was 14, the lawsuit said.

His praise of the girl’s body, and shaming of her when she didn’t follow his dietary instructions, “led to an eating disorder and body dysmorphia that” the younger plaintiff still suffers from today, according to the civil action.

The coach regularly touched the girl inappropriately “in a variety of different positions while grabbing her waist, legs, butt, or hair,” the lawsuit contends.

By 2021, the young skater “had a complete mental breakdown and left skating,” the lawsuit said.

The figure skating governing body and rink operators “had actual knowledge that Roe had been inappropriate with children or young adults under his coaching or mentorship,” the suit claims, and both defendants “breached their duties” to protect the defendants.

“Defendants ABC and XYZ knew or reasonably should have known that allowing a sexual predator to be certified as a skating coach and to be hired as as skating director at a rink filled with vulnerable children and young adults would cause harm to a vulnerable population,” the lawsuit claimed.

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