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8 Oct, 2022 15:32

Ex-skating champion dies at 32 after sexual abuse claims

Bridget Namiotka claimed to have been abused by her former pairs partner John Coughlin
Ex-skating champion dies at 32 after sexual abuse claims

Ex-international pairs figure skating champion Bridget Namiotka, the first person to publicly accuse ex-US national pairs champion John Coughlin of sexual abuse, died this past July, as confirmed by her parents.

Speaking to USA Today, Steve and Maureen Namiotka said their daughter had “succumbed to her long struggles with addiction after several very difficult years of dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse.” 

“She was a beautiful child and a wonderful athlete, and we are heartbroken. It is our hope that Bridget’s death will bring new attention to the terrible effects of sexual abuse and addiction in our society,” they added.

Namiotka made her accusations against former pairs partner Coughlin public in May 2019 when replying to a social media post in support of him.

“I’m sorry but john (sic) hurt at least 10 people including me. He sexually abused me for 2 years,” Namiotka wrote of Coughlin, who died by suicide at the age of 33 on January 18 of that year.

Making more Facebook posts almost immediately after her first accusations, Namiotka added: “Grooming happens. It happened to me and he hurt a lot of girls. Think about the victims.” 

Less than three months following Namiotka’s Facebook posts, Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner told USA Today on August 1 that Coughlin had sexually assaulted her after a party at a national team camp in June 2008 when she had just turned 17 and Coughlin was 22.

Namiotka paired with Coughlin from 2004 to 2007, from the age of 14 to 17 when Coughlin was aged 18 to 21.

In January 2019, USA Today cited a person with knowledge of the situation and reported that three complaints of sexual misconduct had been made against Coughlin.

Contacting USA Today by email, he claimed that the allegations against him were “unfounded.”

“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 said.

“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.”

With Coughlin hanging himself shortly thereafter, this development effectively ended the investigation into his conduct as announced in February 2019 by SafeSport.

Namiotka and Coughlin won three medals together on the Junior Grand Prix series and went on to finish ninth at the senior Olympic level national championships in 2007.

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