U.S. figure skating coach Richard Callaghan, who led Tara Lipinski to the 1998 Olympic gold medal and Todd Eldredge to the 1996 world championship and six national titles, Wednesday was declared “permanently ineligible” by the U.S. Center for SafeSport for “sexual misconduct involving (a) minor.”
The banishment of one of the nation’s most legendary skating coaches comes 12 days after Adam Schmidt, 34, a former skating student of Callaghan’s, filed a lawsuit in San Diego alleging Callaghan repeatedly sexually abused him from 1999 to 2001, beginning when Schmidt was 14 years old. The lawsuit also names U.S. Figure Skating, the sport’s national governing body, and Onyx Ice Arena in Detroit, where Callaghan taught Schmidt.
Richard Callaghan, shown in 1997 working with Tara Lipinski, was banned by the U.S. Center for SafeSport on Wednesday. (Photo: Anne Ryan, USA TODAY Sports)
The alleged sexual abuse occurred after USFS dismissed claims of sexual misconduct against Callaghan in 1999 by Craig Maurizi, now 56, an Olympic coach who said that Callaghan engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with him in 1976 when Maurizi was 13, and later initiated a full sexual relationship with Maurizi when he was 18. That alleged relationship continued until he was 22, after which time Callaghan continued to engage in the inappropriate sexual conduct sporadically for another 12 years, Maurizi told USA TODAY Sports in March 2018.
On Jan. 31, 2018, Maurizi detailed those allegations in a report filed with SafeSport, which suspended Callaghan March 6. USFS then suspended him as well. Callaghan sued SafeSport but a judge dismissed that suit nearly a year ago. The case remained unresolved until Wednesday afternoon.
Callaghan, 73, has repeatedly denied the allegations.
John Manly, Schmidt’s attorney, criticized USFS for not acting sooner.
“This should have been done in the 90s when USFS first knew,” Manly said in a text message to USA TODAY Sports. “It’s good news but small comfort to those Callaghan hurt. Clearly this move is in response to the horrible press USFS received in response to Adam Schmidt’s filing. You shouldn’t have to file a lawsuit to protect kids from child molesters in Olympic sports.”
In a statement released Wednesday, U.S. Figure Skating said it "has made Richard Callaghan permanently ineligible, in compliance with the policies and procedures of the U.S. Center for SafeSport. This action follows Callaghan’s March 6, 2018, suspension of membership."
Schmidt's lawsuit blames USFS for failing to investigate Maurizi’s complaints and dismissing a grievance he filed with the NGB in 1999 because the organization’s bylaws stipulated that alleged misconduct must be reported within 60 days. At the time, Callaghan was allowed to continue to coach some of the nation’s top skaters.
“How did this happen?” Schmidt said to ABC News earlier this month. “Why 20 years ago did everyone know and do nothing? Because if they would have done something then … I never would have been abused.”
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