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Ashley Wagner says she was sexually assaulted at 17 by fellow figure skater John Coughlin, who died by suicide in January.

By Scooby Axson
August 01, 2019

U.S. Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner says she was sexually assaulted by fellow figure skater John Coughlin when she was 17 years old.

Wagner made her claims in a first-person account in USA Today said the incident happened after a party in June 2008.

"It was the middle of the night when I felt him crawl into my bed. I had been sleeping and didn't move because I didn't understand what it meant. I thought he just wanted a place to sleep. But then he started kissing my neck," Wagner wrote. "I pretended to be deep asleep, hoping he would stop. He didn’t. When his hands started to wander, when he started touching me, groping my body, I tried to shift around so that he would think I was waking up and would stop. He didn’t."

Coughlin was found dead by suicide on Jan. 18 in Kansas City, a day after the U.S. Center for SafeSport suspended him.

The governing body for U.S. Figure Skating requested an investigation into sexual misconduct claims against Coughlin, but SafeSport said it would end its probe against Coughlin because of his death, adding it could not "advance an investigation when no potential threat exists.”

Wagner says she and Coughlin never spoke after the night she was assaulted. 

“I didn’t really genuinely process what this was until the start of the #MeToo movement,” Wagner said. “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.”

Wagner, 28, has won the U.S. figure skating national championship three times and was a bronze medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

She said that coming forward with her story was a difficult choice to make.

“If I’m going to be putting a problem out there into the universe, I want to be able to put a problem out there but also do something about it," Wagner said.

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