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Lawsuit filed against US Figure Skating and former Olympic figure skating coach over sexual misconduct allegations

New York, NY (July 20, 2020) -- A former competitive figure skater and member of Team USA has filed a $10 million lawsuit under New York State’s Child Victims Act, against the United States Figure Skating, the Professional Skaters Association, the Buffalo Skating Club, and Olympic figure skating coach Richard Callaghan over allegations of sexual misconduct.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, alleges that Callaghan groomed his young student, Craig Maurizi, for sexual abuse shortly after Maurizi started training under Callaghan at the Buffalo Skating Club in 1976. As Mr. Maurizi’s training intensified, and as his parents’ marriage broke down, Callaghan began his years-long sexual exploitation of Mr. Maurizi when he was only 14 years old.

Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law on February 14, 2019.  The Act expands the time period in which survivors of childhood sexual abuse can initiate legal action against their abusers and the institutions responsible for the abusers that failed to protect their victims. According to the Complaint filed today:
Callaghan used his position of trust and authority to psychologically groom Craig for what turned into nearly a decade of sexual abuse. Callaghan’s conduct was that of a textbook child sexual predator.  He exploited Craig’s vulnerability due to his parents’ divorce, manipulating Craig to make him increasingly isolated and dependent on Callaghan. Callaghan tempted Craig with pornography and alcohol, and gradually escalated his demands from sexual banter, to forcibly touching Craig’s genitals, to mutual masturbation, and ultimately to oral and anal sex. As Callaghan further ensnared Craig, Craig turned to drugs and developed an eating disorder to cope with Callaghan’s iron fisted control over his life and the constant sexual abuse.

The lawsuit alleges that Callaghan’s molestation of young male students was an open secret and widely known by the leaders of U.S. Figure Skating, the Professional Skating Association, the Buffalo Skating Club, and in the competitive skating world at large. Complaints about Callaghan’s behavior were continually swept under the rug.  For example, although the Buffalo Skating Club eventually ousted Callaghan, Callaghan easily replicated his role at other skating clubs and gained in stature as a winning coach.  Meanwhile, as alleged in the Complaint, Callaghan’s conduct was so widely known that “[m]embers of USFS warned skaters not to be alone with Callaghan in the locker rooms.”

Today, Mr. Maurizi is a professional figure skating coach.  He is a seven-time U.S. National Competitor in pairs figure skating and a three-time member of Team USA. He was also the 1985 World Universaide Champion, and an alternate for the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team.

Serving as counsel to Mr. Maurizi is Ilene Jaroslaw, the chair of the White Collar Criminal Defense practice at Phillips Nizer LLP and Elizabeth Adinolfi, a partner in the firm’s Litigation practice. Ms. Jaroslaw previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Ms. Jaroslaw said: “For decades, the U.S. figure skating establishment willfully turned a blind eye to the sexual exploitation of young figure skaters by abusive coaches. As long as Richard Callaghan brought home medals and accolades, U.S. Figure Skating, the Professional Skaters Association, and the Buffalo Skating Club were there to cover up for him. Because of Craig Maurizi’s courage and persistence, and thanks to New York State’s Child Victims Act, Callaghan and his corporate enablers will finally be held to account. Craig may not have been the first nor the last of Callaghan’s victims, but he will fight hard to make sure that Callaghan never has access to young skaters again.”

Mr. Maurizi said:
My feelings are raw, even though this happened to me 40 years ago.  I’m still haunted when I allow myself to think about how     Callaghan manipulated my mind and body to make me dependent on him, how he abused me under the guise of being a father figure when I was most vulnerable.

By the time I’d come to terms with Callaghan's abuse 20 years later, it was too late for the criminal justice system to help me.  I took my grievance to USFS but they threw it out without even talking to me.  I took my grievance to the PSA and they too swept it under the rug.  In more recent years, SafeSport investigated and fully credited all my allegations against Callaghan, but the end result was that Callaghan got off with a slap on the wrist.

The organizations that allowed Callaghan to flourish while they knew he was exploiting young figure skaters have a responsibility to acknowledge that their system is broken and that they wronged me and other athletes by placing a higher value on winning than on our well-being.  I hope this case puts an end to Callaghan’s coaching career once and for all, and that the organizations that enabled him acknowledge their failures and commit to protecting the athletes who train and compete under their auspices.”
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