Figure Skater John Coughlin Committed Suicide During U.S. Center for SafeSport Investigation. Also, Remember Sarah Burt.

February 1 Is the Latest Soft Deadline in USA Swimming’s Kabuki Dance With the U.S. Center for SafeSport Over Revisiting the Case of Coach Scott MacFarland’s Grooming and Abuse of Sarah Ehekircher
January 24, 2019
Not George Gibney (Yet) — But a Huge New Case of Irish-American Police Cooperation and Extradition Around a Sexual Abuser With a Sports Connection
January 25, 2019

Sarah Burt was an outstanding student and competitive swimmer who loved teaching younger kids to swim. But on June 29, 2010, she drove her car to a busy intersection in rural Illinois, 20 minutes from Peoria. She parked, exited, and ended years of private torment by hurling herself in front of a semi-truck. Sarah was 16.

— “How the USA Swimming Sexual Abuse Scandals Became a Federal Case,” Concussion Inc., October 7, 2014


Many of our readers have come across the story of the suicide a week ago today of figure skating pairs champion John Coughlin, who was despondent after being placed on interim suspension by the U.S. Center for SafeSport during investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct by him against minors.

USA Today’s update of the procedural status of this matter is at

It is a moment to give some space to Coughlin’s mourning family. It is also a time to reflect anew on the reality that sexual abuse, and its adjudication, is a contact sport. Indeed, it is a war zone. As with battlefield casualties, abuse fallout reverberates across time, across generations, in substance abuse, eating disorders, and perpetuated cycles of abuse toward partners and children. There is no single headline that can capture the human and public health toll, since almost the entire cost, or certainly most of it, is underground.

Out of the current focus of attention on the suicide of an accused victimizer, we are reprinting our coverage of the suicide of Sarah Burt, whose allegations of sexual abuse by her coach in Peoria, Illinois, were never heard. Below are headline links from, respectively, 2012, 2017, and 2018.


Remember Sarah Burt (Published August 4th, 2012)

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick