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SafeSport Has Closed Its Investigation Of Pairs Skater John Coughlin Due To His Death

John Coughlin competing in the pairs short program with his partner, Caydee Denney, during the Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden in 2014.
Photo: Matthew Stockman (Getty)

The U.S. Center for SafeSport announced today that it was ending its investigation into multiple reports of sexual misconduct involving former pairs skater John Coughlin. SafeSport had placed Coughlin on an interim suspension in January after three people reported his possible sexual misconduct to the organization, according to USA Today. Coughlin died by suicide a day after the suspension was put in place.

Coughlin first had his ability to participate in skating restricted in December due to one report to SafeSport, USA Today’s Christine Brennan reported, and Coughlin told her at the time that the allegation was “unfounded.” In January, two more complaints about sexual misconduct were made to SafeSport and, unlike the first, they involved people who were minors at the time, Brennan reported. Following those complaints, SafeSport increased the measure on Coughlin from an interim restriction to an interim suspension.


SafeSport announced the decision in a statement today, shared in full by journalist Philip Hersh. The news is in the fifth paragraph, which says, without naming Coughlin, that, “Since the Center’s response and resolution process works to protect the sport community and other covered persons from the risks associated with sexual misconduct and abuse, it cannot advance an investigation when no potential threat exists.”

After Coughlin’s death, U.S. Figure Skating executive director David Raith had asked SafeSport to continue its investigation, even suggesting it hire a third-party investigator or outside counsel if necessary. At the same press conference, USFS President Anne Cammett said: “If it just ends, there is not the closure.”

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Diana Moskovitz

Senior editor at Deadspin

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