Report: Olympic figure skating coach suspended 19 years after first claims of sexual misconduct

Richard Callaghan (right) coached Tara Lipinski to a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. (AP)

Richard Callaghan, a prominent figure skating coach best known for leading Tara Lipinski and Todd Eldredge to Olympic glory, has reportedly been suspended by U.S. Figure Skating. The charge comes nearly two decades after Callaghan was first accused of sexual misconduct by a male figure skater who is now also a figure skating coach.

The news was first reported on Friday by Christine Brennan of USA Today. 

Callaghan was first accused of sexual misconduct by skater Craig Maurizi in a New York Times article that ran on April 11, 1999.  In the piece, Maurizi charged that Callaghan initiated sexual conduct with him when he was 15 and then entered a sexual relationship with him when Maurizi turned 18.

The relationship continued for another four years and was then off-and-on for another 12 before Callaghan was convinced by his wife and therapist that the relationship had been wrong.

Callaghan has repeatedly denied the allegations over the years.

”At the time, I thought the sex was consensual,” Maurizi told the Times in 1999. “Now, when I look back, I don’t think it was consensual. I don’t care how old a student is, whether it’s a boy or a girl, a coach should never have sex with a student.”

Maurizi filed a charge against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association in June of 1999, but it was dismissed on the technicality that it wasn’t filed within 60 days of the alleged wrongdoing.

In the wake of the abuse charges that have rocked the gymnastics and swimming world, Maurizi recently brought his story to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which first suspended Callaghan.

Two other skaters claimed in the Times article that Callaghan had acted inappropriately toward them. Eddy Zeidler said Callaghan had exposed himself in a hotel room in 1992 while Roman Fraden said he was the recipient of inappropriate sexual remarks in 1999.

”For whatever reasons I don’t understand, people love me or hate me,” Callaghan said in 1999. ”I have no clue why. In almost 30 years, I’ve taught about 500 kids. I don’t understand this. The allegations are awful. I can’t believe I worked my butt off for kids to be successful in skating to be better people and this stuff happens.”

USA Today reports that Callaghan, now 72, currently lives in southwest Florida and was recently seeking new students in Estero, Fla.  Maurizi recently coached the U.S. figure skating team in PyeongChang.

Maurizi declined to comment on the suspension to USA Today. Callaghan did not answer his cell phone on Friday morning, the paper said.