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No Complaint Vs. Skating Coach

April 13, 1999

Rumored in the skating community the last few weeks, lurid allegations against Richard Callaghan are now spreading over newspapers, television and the internet.

Until a formal complaint is filed, though, the U.S. Figure Skating Association says a former student and colleague’s story of sexual misconduct and exploitation is just that _ a story.

``There’s going to be no reaction until there’s a formal document or accusation,″ Jim Disbrow, USFSA president, said Monday.

``As the U.S. Figure Skating Association, we are very, very, very steadfast to the fact we’re not going to react to every rumor,″ he added. ``There’s a lot of gab and a lot of talking, but there’s nothing formal with definite accusations, timely accusations.″

And as of late Monday afternoon, neither the USFSA nor the Professional Skaters Association had received any complaint or grievance regarding Callaghan. In fact, no one’s ever made a formal complaint, legal or otherwise, about Callaghan, who coached Todd Eldredge to five national titles and Tara Lipinski to a gold medal at the Nagano Olympics last year.

But in a story first published Sunday by the New York Times, Craig Maurizi accused Callaghan of having an inappropriate relationship with him. Maurizi, now 36, said Callaghan made improper advances to him when he was 15, and used his position of authority to initiate a full sexual relationship after Maurizi turned 18. The relationship continued until he was 22, Maurizi alleged.

The Times story also contained allegations from two other former students, who claim Callaghan made inappropriate remarks or gestures to them. Callaghan has vehemently denied all of the allegations.

``I have to pray that ultimately people in the skating community are going to believe me because this rumor was prevalent for years and years,″ Maurizi, who until last year was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club, told the Detroit Free Press. ``Why the heck would I want to lie about something like this? I’m dragging myself through the mud as much as him.

``I’m hoping that by doing this I can help the sport, believe it or not. This is my profession, and it’s an honorable profession.″

Maurizi did not return several phone calls to his home by The Associated Press.

If a complaint is field with either the USFSA or PSA, it first goes to the chair of the grievance committee, who decides if there’s enough merit to be considered by a grievance panel. If it does, the panel hears evidence from both sides before issuing a ruling and, if warranted, a punishment.

``There will be no knee-jerk reaction,″ Disbrow said. ``That’s in fairness to everybody.″

Maurizi never reported Callaghan and continued working with him after the relationship ended, coaching with him in San Diego and Detroit. The two split last year after Lipinski left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The allegations have caused some tension at the Detroit Skating Club, where a sign on the door Monday asked reporters to respect skaters’ privacy and not bother them.

``Both Richard and Craig are highly respected here at the skating club. Richard has brought great success to the club,″ said Jo Anne Berry, a board member at the club.

Since 1990, there have been only four years in which Callaghan didn’t have one of the top three skaters in either the men’s or women’s singles in the U.S. national championships. When Nicole Bobek and Eldredge won national titles in 1995, he became the first coach in 45 years to train the men’s and ladies’ champions in the same year.

Callaghan resigned as director of competitive skating at the Detroit Skating Club last month, but it had nothing to do with Maurizi’s allegations, said his attorney, Dean Groulx. Callaghan still plans to work with some of the skaters he’s currently training.

``The rigors of the travel schedule he was having to maintain, being away from his family, were the most significant factors in his decision to semi-retire,″ said Groulx, who said Callaghan was ``shocked and dismayed″ at the allegations.

While Maurizi said there had been rumors for years, former USFSA president Claire Ferguson said there are rumors about just about everyone. She’s heard most of them _ including some about her.

``People have been damaged,″ she said. ``I’m sorry for everyone involved, and I hope that this too passes into history without ruining too many lives.″

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