Ex-skater says deceased partner abused her

A former skating partner of deceased figure skater John Coughlin said he sexually abused her for two years.

"I'm sorry but John hurt at least 10 people including me," Bridget Namiotka wrote on Facebook in a series of posts. "He sexually abused me for 2 years. Nobody innocent hangs themself."

Namiotka skated with Coughlin from 2004 through 2007, when she was between the ages of 14 and 17. Coughlin, who would go on to win a national championship before becoming a coach and popular television commentator for the sport, was five years older than Namiotka.

California attorney John Manly confirmed to ESPN that he represents Namiotka and that she wrote the Facebook posts. Manly confirmed to USA Today that he represents two other women who say Coughlin abused them.

"My clients believe, as do I, that what Mr. Coughlin was doing was known at high levels of U.S. Figure Skating. They allowed his family and supporters to develop a false narrative that he was being wrongfully accused. He was a predator and sadly took his own life to avoid accountability," Manly told ESPN.

Coughlin died by suicide in January, shortly after the U.S. Center for SafeSport suspended him amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

SafeSport, the organization tasked with adjudicating sexual misconduct claims within Olympic sports, dropped its investigation of Coughlin after his death. Leaders from U.S. Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters Association asked SafeSport multiple times to reopen the case to provide some resolution to the matter for all parties involved. A spokesman for SafeSport said that request was declined because it couldn't make a ruling without the accused party available to defend himself. The spokesman also said SafeSport's charge is to protect athletes, and because Coughlin died, he no longer posed a threat to others in the figure skating community.

When reached for comment about this week's development and Manly's reaction, USFS spokeswoman Barb Reichert said the organization commends and supports all who speak up about sexual abuse or misconduct and encourages them to share their stories with law enforcement, SafeSport and USFS officials.

"We condemn any and all acts of bullying and shaming of those who share their story. Bullying and victim-shaming are wrong and will not be tolerated," Reichert wrote in a statement from the organization.

Coughlin's death, which came one week before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, sparked controversy and anger in the figure skating community. Friends and colleagues of Coughlin said the public nature of the accusations, which were posted in SafeSport's online database and then shared by media outlets, led to him taking his own life. Others in the skating community said shows of support for Coughlin in Detroit were insulting and damaging for the women who say they were abused by him.

Namiotka fought back as some commenters on her Facebook page attacked her for disparaging Coughlin.

"Grooming happens," she said. "It happened to me and he hurt a lot of girls. Think about the victims."

Namiotka is the first of those women to publicly identify herself. She has not initiated any legal action at this time.