Figure skater Bridget Namiotka, 29, has publically asserted that prior junior skating partner, John Coughlin, a two-time US national pairs champion, sexually abused her for the duration of two years while they were partners. According to reporters at the daily mail, this accusation comes five months after Coughlin committed suicide amidst allegations of sexual misconduct and a SafeSport ban on his Olympic figure skating career.
Winning medals together in the World Junior Championships during their partnership from 2004-2007, Namiotka stated on her Facebook that her relationship with Coughlin was less than professional. Her partnership with Coughlin beginning when she was 14 and he was 19, Namiotka stated on her Facebook that she believes Coughlin used their age disparity to groom her to become one of his sexual victims. In addition to herself, Namiotka believes that Coughlin sexually assaulted ten other women – whether they were also figure skating partners of his is unclear. Namiotka’s partnership with Coughlin ended in 2007 when she was 17 and he was 22. Daily mail reporters state that Coughlin went on to partner with skater Caydee Denney with whom he went on to win adult competitions.
While it is unknown whether Namiotka was the one who made the original allegation of sexual misconduct that prompted SafeSport to launch an investigation into Coughlin, SafeSport placed Coughlin under suspension on December 17, 2018. SafeSport, the only organization that oversees accusations of sexual misconduct within Olympic sports, attributed Coughlin’s ban to “unspecified conduct,” as reported by the daily mail. On January 7, 2019, Coughlin released a statement to USA Today regarding SafeSport’s freeze on his skating career: “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 continued to say, “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.”
Misplaced Sympathy For Coughlin
Coughlin’s family maintain that the claims levied against Coughlin by SafeSport and Namiotka are “unsubstantiated” and that the unfounded rumors are to blame for Coughlin’s suicide. Coughlin’s friends, as well as peers from the skating community, have shared their sympathies with the deceased and his family following Coughlin’s death. Simultaneously, fans of Coughlin’s have reached out to Namiotka and accused her of lying. However, Namiotka has also received support for her bravery in exposing the assault she and other women experienced at the hands of Coughlin. Namiotka responded to those who have accused her of falsehood with the reminder that an innocent man wouldn’t be compelled to hang himself. Namiotka also reminds her critics to think, not just of her singular self, but also of all the other victims she believes Coughlin abused.
For support call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 or the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255.