Former US skater sues coach for sex assault

LOS ANGELES • A former member of the US national figure skating team said in a lawsuit on Friday that he was sexually molested as a teenage boy by a coach the sport's governing body had ignored complaints about.

Adam Schmidt sued coach Richard Callaghan and US Figure Skating in San Diego County Superior Court. He is seeking unspecified damages for several counts including negligence, sexual harassment against both and assault and sexual battery that he said began in 1999 when he was 14.

Schmidt, formerly known as Adam Baadani, quit a promising skating career because of the physical and emotional toll from the abuse, his lawyer said.

"Our client is an extremely talented young athlete who dreamed of nothing more than to stand on an Olympic podium and hear our national anthem," attorney John Manly said.

"The US Figure Skating Association and the ice rinks where Callaghan worked ignored complaints against him for years. If they had done their legal duty in 1999 and reported Callaghan to the police, our client and other children could have been protected from this monster."

Callaghan, who trained Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, was suspended last year by the US Centre for SafeSport, the US Olympic Committee's misconduct watchdog, after another skater said he had been abused 20 years ago.

Callaghan's lawyer in Michigan said his client "denies any wrongdoing at any time" and had not been served with the suit or told about Schmidt's allegations.

Callaghan was accused of sexual misconduct by a former student in a 1999 New York Times article. Craig Maurizi, who later became an assistant to Callaghan in San Diego and Detroit, said the coach began inappropriate sexual contact with him when he was 15.

The lawsuit said US Figure Skating claimed it reviewed the allegations raised in the article, but dismissed them because the victim had not filed a grievance within 60 days of the alleged incident.

According to ABC News, Schmidt never reported his alleged abuse to the federation, and did not explicitly tell any of his family or friends until recently.

"It was only in, or around, January of 2017, after he suffered a psychological breakdown and was hospitalised," the lawsuit notes, "that first disclosed his sexual abuse at the hands of to a mental health professional."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 11, 2019, with the headline 'Former US skater sues coach for sex assault'. Print Edition | Subscribe