Bridget Namiotka, a former pairs partner of John Coughlin, the American figure skater who died of suicide in January, has accused him of sexually abusing her for two years.
She replied to a message of support for Coughlin on Facebook, making the accusation. “I’m sorry but john hurt at least 10 people including me,” she wrote. “He sexually abused me for 2 years. Nobody innocent hangs themself [sic].”
She went on to add: “Someone that’s innocent doesn’t hang himself. Think about the victims when you’re speaking up for what he did to at least 10 girls.”
"Grooming happens. It happened to me and he hurt a lot of girls. Think about the victims.”
USA Today first reported the accusation, which was denied by Tara Modlin, Coughlin’s agent. “It seems that you want me to comment on an unstable persons [sic] Facebook comment — I don’t really understand your question,” she texted a USA Today reporter. " … my suggestion is to call some of his other partners …”
Modlin did not immediately respond to interview requests.
John Manly, the attorney who represents more than 200 victims in the Larry Nassar gymnastics sexual abuse case, confirmed he represents Namiotka and her family and that she had written the Facebook posts. He also confirmed that he represents two other women who were minors when they allegedly were abused by Coughlin.
Coughlin, a two-time U.S. pairs champion with two other partners, teamed with Namiotka, 29, from 2004 to 2007, when she was between the ages of 14 and 17 and he was 18-21. They won three medals on the Junior Grand Prix series and finished ninth in the senior (Olympic) level at the 2007 U.S. national championships.
Coughlin was 33 when he hanged himself on Jan. 18 in the Kansas City home of his father, one day after he had been given an interim suspension by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent nonprofit that says it is “committed to ending all forms of abuse in sport.” At the time, USA Today reported that there had been three reports of sexual misconduct against him, allegations that he had called “unfounded.” In February, SafeSport announced that his death had effectively ended the investigation.
Despite U.S. Figure Skating’s call for answers, SafeSport said in March that it would not reopen the case despite a culture “that allowed grooming and abuse to go unchecked for too long” and “cannot be allowed to continue.” Coughlin’s death, the organization said in a statement at the time, meant he was no longer a potential threat.