Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Wagner says she was sexually assaulted by John Coughlin, becoming the latest figure skater to make an accusation against the former U.S. skater.
Wagner, 28, detailed the June 2008 assault to USA Today Sports this week, saying she was 17 when Coughlin, then 22, climbed into bed with her, kissed her and groped her without her permission. She said the incident occurred after a party at the U.S. team's figure skating camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"I was absolutely paralyzed in fear," Wagner told the newspaper.
After several minutes, Wagner said she grabbed Coughlin's hand and told him to stop. At that point, he left the room.
Wagner, a three-time national champion who is now retired from competitive skating, also wrote about the assault in a first-person piece for USA Today.
"I now know that regardless of the events of that night, I got into that bed thinking I was safe to just fall asleep. He was the one who took away that safety," Wagner wrote. "I went into that house just wanting to have fun with my friends. He was the one who shattered all of that."
Coughlin died by suicide in January, a day after he received an interim suspension from the U.S. Center for SafeSport and U.S. Figure Skating for unspecified conduct. He was 33.
He was accused by three people of sexual misconduct at the time of his suspension. Two of those accusations came from minors, according to USA Today, including one from his former pairs teammate Bridget Namiotka.
Wagner said soon after that night in 2008 that she told two people close to her about what happened. USA Today spoke to one of them, who confirmed her account but was not identified because of the "sensitivity of the topic."
Wagner detailed her accusation to U.S. Figure Skating in February.
"What happened to Ashley should not happen to anyone, period," USFS spokeswoman Barbara Reichert told USA Today in a statement. "Ashley is incredibly strong; not just to have the courage to come forward with her story, but to share her experience publicly to help others."
Wagner said she and Coughlin never discussed the incident again.
Coughlin's father, Mike, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the allegations against his son go back many years and that he doesn't believe any are valid. He added that his son did not coach any of those skaters and had no leverage over them.
"John was a fellow skater with the people involved," Mike Coughlin said. "And it is, you know, just a tragic situation."
Wagner said she feared speaking out earlier because she competes in a sport where judges determine success. She told the newspaper two factors helped change her mind: the emergence of the #MeToo movement and Coughlin's coaching suspension.
"I didn't really genuinely process what this was until the start of the #MeToo movement," Wagner told USA Today. "Hearing other women come forward with their stories, it kind of made me reflect on this experience in a completely different manner. I had always felt violated but something within that movement really showed me that I was violated and I did have my safety and comfort taken away from me that night."