Former U.S. Olympic Skater Ashley Wagner Alleges Fellow Skater John Coughlin Sexually Assaulted Her
Former US Olympic Skater Ashley Wagner alleges that John Coughlin, a fellow skater, sexually assaulted her back in 2008.
Wagner said that the incident occurred at a party during a figure skating camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Wagner was unable to find a way back to her hotel and was offered to stay with Coughlin.
“It was the middle of the night when I felt him crawl into my bed,” said Wagner. “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.”
She continued to talk about how he kept touching her.
“But then he started kissing my neck. I pretended to be deep asleep, hoping he would stop. He didn’t,” she said. “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.”
The former Olympic skater then stated how she was scared and how much bigger he was. She was unsure if she could push him off, but she eventually began to cry, grab his hand, and told him to stop, which he did.
Wagner was 17 at the time and Coughlin was 22.
She told two people what happened that night.
“In 2008, I didn’t have the knowledge and empowerment that came with the #MeToo movement,” she said. “No one had explained consent to me.”
She also admitted that she felt that no one would listen to her because everyone liked Coughlin.
The bronze medalist understands the issues with naming Coughlin now but felt necessary for her credibility. She knew she had to share her story to make the sport safe for younger athletes, after watching skaters like 13-year-old Alysa Liu.
Coughlin was found dead in Kanas City, Missouri by suicide on January 18, 2019. He was suspended from figure skating the day before due to allegations of sexual misconduct.