Home Tech Former Olympic skater John Zimmerman suspended following accusation of sex abuse cover-up

Former Olympic skater John Zimmerman suspended following accusation of sex abuse cover-up

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John Zimmerman, a 2002 Olympian and member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, has been suspended for two years by the U.S. Center for SafeSport after being accused of failing to report and covering up the alleged 2017 sexual abuse of a 13-year-old female skater he coached, and allegedly shaming and threatening the girl after he found out about the incident.

The suspension, which was announced on the SafeSport website Tuesday evening, is subject to appeal. SafeSport, which described the offense as “abuse of process, emotional misconduct, failure to report,” did not disclose the length of the suspension, but a person with knowledge of the investigation told USA TODAY Sports that Zimmerman received a two-year suspension plus one year of probation.

The person requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Zimmerman is prohibited from participation in any capacity in any program, activity, event or competition sponsored by, organized by or under the auspices of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the national governing body for the sport (U.S. Figure Skating in this case), or at a facility under the jurisdiction of the USOPC or USFS.

Morgan Cipres, left, is shown with John Zimmeran, far right -- and Cipres' partner, Vanessa James -- after completing the free program at the Olympics in 2018.

In December 2019, USA TODAY Sports reported that SafeSport had opened an investigation into an allegation that on Dec. 3, 2017, French Olympic pairs skater Morgan Cipres sent two photos of his penis to the girl, who skated at the same rink as Cipres in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Cipres also was coached by Zimmerman. 

The girl and her parents said that instead of going to police or SafeSport, which opened in March 2017 to investigate sexual abuse in Olympic sports, Zimmerman and his coaching partner and wife Silvia Fontana allegedly implored them to stay quiet because Cipres, who then was 26, and his pairs partner Vanessa James were in the final stages of their preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, where they finished fifth.

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