US Figure Skating has banned longtime coach Richard Callaghan after sexual abuse allegations

Richard Callaghan at the Detroit skating club in an undated photo.

(CNN)Longtime coach Richard Callaghan has been permanently banned from US Figure Skating after he was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing an underage figure skater.

The action comes after the US Center for SafeSport -- the US Olympic Committee agency that has exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of sexual misconduct -- said Callaghan was permanently ineligible to participate in any competition or activity having to do with the US Olympic Committee or the sport's national governing body.
US Figure Skating adopted the sanction, effective Wednesday, it said on its website.
Earlier this month, Callaghan was accused of repeatedly sexually abusing former US figure skater Adam Schmidt over the course of two years, beginning when Schmidt was about 14 years old. The abuse occurred while Callaghan was coaching Schmidt, the lawsuit alleged, and later at a competition in San Diego.
    US Figure Skating previously declined to comment on the litigation, but said it "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 ice skating facility said the claims in the lawsuit were "very serious" and "deserve a thorough investigation." The facility said it was first notified of the claims by news outlets and requests for comment from journalists and had yet to receive the lawsuit.
    The US Center for SafeSport previously suspended Callaghan in March 2018, following allegations that he made sexual advances as early as 1976 toward another young figure skater, who said he was 13 at the time.
    In an email, Callaghan's attorney, Dean Groulx, told CNN the ban marked a "sad day for US Olympic sports. A true giant in US figure skating is subject to a lifetime ban without due process."
    Groulx blasted SafeSport, saying that the group "changed its rules in the middle of its investigation of Richard Callaghan to carry out what can only be characterized, in my opinion, as a witch hunt."
    Schmidt, now 34, is a former member of the US National Figure Skating Team, his lawyers said.
    "This announcement is a major victory for all who've suffered abuses by the former legend of figure skating, Mr. Callaghan," Schmidt said in a statement Thursday. He went on to accuse US Figure Skating of creating a "culture of abuse that lasted decades and today is the first of many victories to come in reversing that."
      And Schmidt's attorney, John Manly, hailed the decision, telling CNN, "This should have been done in the 90's. It's good news but small comfort to those he hurt."
      Callaghan coached figure skater Tara Lipinski to a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. He also coached 1996 world champion Todd Eldredge.