In the latest high-profile case that spotlights New York’s Child Victims Act that allows decades-old sexual assault cases to get their day in court, a former figure skater has filed a civil lawsuit against a highly regarded coach for misconduct in the 1970s.
In the federal case filed in Buffalo, Craig Maurizi – a once-promising competitive skater now in his 50s – seeks $10 million from coach Richard Callaghan and three figure skating organization co-defendants – the Buffalo Skating Club, the Professional Skaters Association and the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Maurizi initially came forward in 1999 with his accusations against Callaghan.
Supplied him with alcohol
The lawsuit alleges that Callaghan took advantage of the trust the young skater had in him, leading to a decade of sexual abuse. Maurizi claims that the three skating organizations ignored the signs of sexual abuse that were taking place against him and other skaters.
The court files note that the Buffalo Skating Club booted out Callaghan in 1980, partly due to the sexual abuse, but failed to report the allegations to the other governing skating organizations. Instead, the Buffalo organization pushed Callaghan to join the Philadelphia Skating Club.
In addition, the lawsuit notes that the Buffalo Skating Club had knowledge that Callaghan stored alcohol in his office and frequently shared it with the skaters who were minors.
Serious allegations in the lawsuit
The court documents include troubling details:
- Maurizi claims that a Buffalo Skating Club employee reported Callaghan’s sexual abuse of a minor after walking in on them. The employee reported the incident to the club’s board of directors, which took no action.
- Dating back to the 1970s, officials of the U.S. Figure Skating Association consistently cautioned young male skaters not to be alone with coach Callaghan.
A year ago, Callaghan received a lifetime ban from the sport related to allegations made by another skater. In January, the ban was changed to a three-year suspension, 15 years of probation and 100 hours of community service, thus making Callaghan eligible to return to coaching in 2022.
Maurizi said New York’s Child Victims Act – which went into effect in early 2019 – made it possible for him to file the lawsuit. The law temporarily extends the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases through Jan. 14, 2021.