Champion’s horrific reveal after death
A former partner of US figure-skating champion John Coughlin - who committed suicide in January - has come forward with claims he sexually abused her for two years.
The revelation by Bridget Namiotka was made in response to a now-deleted Facebook post on Sunday in support of Coughlin, USA Today reported.
"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]."
Coughlin, 33, had been placed on restricted eligibility by US Center for SafeSport, an organisation that investigates bullying and physical and sexual abuse in sports, a month before he killed himself. He was being probed for allegations of abuse - the nature of which were not disclosed at the time.
Namiotka, 29, skated with Coughlin from 2004 to 2007, when he was between the ages of 18 and 21 and she was 14 to 17.
Together they won three medals on the Junior Grand Prix series and finished ninth in the senior level at the 2007 US national championships.
She followed up with other comments about Coughlin on Facebook.
"Someone that's innocent doesn't hang himself," she wrote.
"Think about the victims when you're speaking up for what he did to at least 10 girls."
She also posted: "Grooming happens. It happened to me and he hurt a lot of girls. Think about the victims."
John Manly, the lawyer who represents Namiotka as well as the more than 200 victims of disgraced gymnastics coach Larry Nassar, confirmed she wrote the Facebook posts.
Coughlin was a two-time US pairs champion with two other partners.
He hanged himself at his father's Kansas City home one day after being suspended by SafeSport.
Sources told USA Today that Coughlin was being investigated for three reports of sexual misconduct. His death ended that probe.
Asked about Namiotka's allegations, Coughlin's former agent, Tara Modlin, told USA Today in a text message: "It seems that you want me to comment on an unstable persons (sic) Facebook comment - I don't really understand your question.
"My suggestion is to call some of his other partners."
At the time of Coughlin's death in January, his sister, Angela Laune, wrote on Facebook of her heartbreak.
"My wonderful, strong, amazingly compassionate brother John Coughlin took his own life earlier today," Angela Laune wrote.
"I have no words."
Coughlin was distraught over the allegations made before his death, according to his coach, Dalilah Sappenfield.
"It was so very difficult for him and all those who loved him to see his name and reputation being dragged through the mud these past few weeks, without any due process," Sappenfield wrote on Facebook.
"He felt alone, lost, and desperate that he no longer had it in him to fight."
Coughlin won the pairs championship in 2011 skating alongside Caitlin Yankowskas, and in 2012 with Caydee Denney.
He retired in 2015, but remained a fixture in figure skating as a coach, TV announcer and leader in international skating organisations.
* If you or someone you know is in need of crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp