Jan 20, 2021
A $1.45 million settlement has been reached in a sexual abuse civil lawsuit filed by a former member of the U.S. National Figure Skating Team. In the 2019 complaint, filed in San Diego Superior Court, skater Adam Schmidt, 36, alleges that he was sexually abused at age 14 by coach Richard Callaghan. The sexual abuse by the coach allegedly took place over the course of several years, and Callaghan was allowed to continue coaching Schmidt despite multiple reports that he had abused another skater.
According to the suit, Callaghan abused Schmidt on multiple occasions between 1999 and 2001. The suit specifically alleges that the U.S. Figure Skating Association failed to protect Schmidt as a minor from the predator coach. Schmidt reached a previous sexual abuse settlement involving Callaghan for $1.75 million with Onyx Ice Arena, a skating facility located in Rochester, Michigan. The arena is one of several locations where Callaghan allegedly abused Schmidt.
How to file a lawsuit if you’ve been sexually abused?
The $1.45 million settlement, to be paid by U.S. Figure Skating and its insurer, was reached without any admission of liability or wrongdoing. The organization declined to comment directly on the settlement, but issued a public statement.
“U.S. Figure Skating fully supports all victims of sexual abuse and misconduct and encourages anyone who has been abused or suspects abuse or misconduct to immediately report it to local law enforcement, the U.S. Center for SafeSport, or U.S. Figure Skating,” the statement said.
One of Schmidt’s attorneys, Alex Cunny, issued a statement to Law360.com last week.
“This is a groundbreaking settlement in terms of a national governing body that ultimately shows that U.S. Figure Skating has had a history of not protecting children like our client Adam,” Cunny told the outlet on Friday. “And our client had an extraordinary amount of courage to come forward and confront his abuser and confront the organization that allowed this to happen.”
In a statement to ABC News, Schmidt said the settlement “speaks for itself.” “People don’t settle things for millions of dollars for nothing,” he added.
John Manly, another attorney representing Schmidt, indicated that the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s failure to issue an apology as part of the settlement was significant. Manly referred to the lack of apology as part of “institutional arrogance combined with a view of skaters as a disposable commodity.”
“That’s a toxic brew for an organization that’s supposed to protect children under its care,” Manly said on Thursday, according to the New York Times. Manly added that Schmidt was “very concerned about children in the sport today – that they aren’t safe – and he wants a cultural change in the organization.”
Callaghan is well known for coaching Olympian Tara Lipinski to a gold medal in the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan. He has been accused of sexually abusing and molesting other skaters in the past.
In 1999, Craig Maurizi, a prominent coach and former student of Callaghan’s, told The New York Times that Callaghan had begun sexually abusing him when he was only 15. Two additional skaters also issued allegations of inappropriate behavior against Callaghan in the Times article.
Maurizi filed a lawsuit in a Buffalo, New York, Federal District Court accusing Callaghan of sexual abuse. The complaint also accuses the U.S. Figure Skating Association of failing to prevent said abuse. Maurizi’s lawsuit is currently pending, but the $1.45 million settlement in Adam Schmidt’s case will reportedly not have a direct impact.
The New York Times also reported that in August 2019, Callaghan was permanently barred from figure skating by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a nonprofit organization created to track and investigate the abuse of athletes.
Sexual abuse survivors are able to pursue justice through a civil lawsuit in an effort to recover financial compensation for damages. Dordulian Law Group is California’s leading sexual abuse firm, with decades of experience successfully representing clients in all types of cases. DLG established the Sex Crime Division’s SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts) to provide survivors with a unique type of legal representation that addresses myriad needs and provides all-encompassing support.
Our SAJE Team gives all survivors 24/7 access to four tiers of resources in the form of sexual abuse professionals who have dedicated their lives to ensuring justice is served in sex crime cases. To speak to a member of our SAJE Team about filing a claim and beginning the process of healing, visit our contact page today.
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
The California statute of limitations on sex crimes varies depending on whether the survivor was a child or an adult at the time of the incident, as well as the year the crime occurred. For adult survivors of sexual abuse, Assembly Bill 1619 (AB 1619) extended the statute of limitations on sex crimes occurring after January 1, 2019 from three years to 10 years. Adult survivors of sexual abuse who were victimized after January 1, 2019 now have 10 years to file a claim. Additionally, AB 1619 allows adult survivors to file a claim up to three years after the discovery of an injury resulting from the assault (whichever date is later). However, for adult sexual abuse cases occurring before January 1, 2019, the previous two-year statute of limitations still applies.
To recap, the statute of limitations for adult sex crimes in California equals:
For childhood sexual abuse crimes, like the example involving U.S. figure skater Adam Schmidt, recent legislation known as AB 218 provides a temporary three-year “lookback window” option for survivors. Under the lookback window, any survivor of childhood sexual abuse is now eligible to file a claim until January 1, 2023. One year of the lookback window has already expired, however. Once the window closes permanently in 2023, the standard statute of limitations will take effect, and many survivors who did not file claims will be left without legal recourse.
AB 218 also allows for a five-year statute of limitations on the discovery of an adulthood psychological injury resulting from childhood sexual abuse, while also changing the terminology within the law to be more broadly defined as “childhood sexual assault.” Consequently, the number of eligible survivors in California with childhood sexual abuse claims is dramatically increased under AB 218. However, many survivors are unaware of the new law, or that they have a valid claim for childhood sexual abuse. Accordingly, we encourage anyone who knows someone who was sexually abused as a child to please inform him or her about the options currently available under AB 218. The new law is an unprecedented opportunity for all survivors of childhood sexual assault to obtain justice, but it is only available for a limited time.
Additionally, AB 218 allows survivors to recover triple damages awards in cases where a cover-up can be proven. The treble damages clause within AB 218 is an effort to severely prosecute childhood sexual abuse crimes that involved a systematic cover-up (either by an individual or institution), The treble damages clause in AB 218 would ultimately award a cover-up case survivor three times the damages in a settlement or verdict (e.g. a $10 million award would be increased to $30 million).
Regardless of when the crime occurred, survivors are advised to report the incident and file a claim immediately to ensure evidence is preserved and the case has the greatest chance of success.
Call an experienced and knowledgeable sexual abuse attorney at Dordulian Law Group today to begin the process of filing a claim and pursuing justice through a financial damages award. Our consultations are free and there is never any obligation to proceed with a claim. We are here to answer your questions and inform you of your rights under the law so you may decide whether or not pursuing a sexual abuse claim is the right choice for you.
With our no fee guarantee, survivors never have to worry about upfront expenses or paying anything out-of-pocket. You only pay after we recover financial damages for you. With our previous success record of 98%, and our history of recovering over $100 million for clients like you, you can be sure that when you choose DLG your case is in good hands and has the absolute best chance of succeeding. We’re dedicated to fighting for you to ensure your case is won and you recover the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.