Olympic Figure Skater Says She Was Assaulted When She Was 17
Ashley Wagner said she's speaking out now because she doesn't want other young girls to go through what she did.
A U.S. Olympic figure skater is speaking out, saying she was sexually assaulted when she was a teenager.
Ashley Wagner, 28, who won the bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Games, said it happened at a party when she was just 17 years old.
She accused John Coughlin, a two-time U.S. pairs figure skating champion, of kissing and fondling her while she pretended to be asleep in bed.
The prominent skater died by suicide last January after being suspended from all sanctioned skating activities as he faced sexual misconduct allegations from three different women.
"The only reason why I’m doing this, and naming him, is so I can add a bit of legitimacy to my story. It's not about his name, it's about the fact that this happened and it was allowed to happen because of the environment that I grew up in as an athlete,” Wagner wrote in a piece for USA Today.
Wagner pointed to the small social circles in the skating world where 13-year-old athletes travel on the same teams as people who are 20.
"It’s a pressure-cooker environment and it creates really unhealthy power dynamics and relationships within the sport and no one talks about it in skating and it's not normal, and it creates situations like this where his actions were inexcusable, but also, he didn't see me as a minor. He saw me as one of his equals because we were teammates,” she said.
Wagner is coming forward less than two years after USA Gymnastics was rocked by scandal when Dr. Larry Nassar was convicted of sexual assault as more than 150 young gymnasts spoke out against him.
Wagner said she decided to speak out now because she doesn't want other young girls to go through what she says happened to her.
"This happened. I've been living with this since I was 17. This has happened to other women and this continues to happen in my sport," she added. "So just because he's no longer with us, doesn't mean that I can sit back and allow other athletes to put themselves in this position."
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