US figure skating coach Dalilah Sappenfield banned for life for misconduct allegations

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 06:  Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Christopher Knierim celebrate in the kiss and cry with their coaches Eddie Shipstad and Dalilah Sappenfield after the Pairs Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 6, 2018 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

U.S. Olympic pairs figure skating coach Dalilah Sappenfield was banned for multiple violations including physical and emotional misconduct, retaliation, abuse of process and failure to report a potential SafeSport violation.

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Sappenfield was banned for life by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, according to USA Today.

“Culture change is happening,” SafeSport CEO Ju’Riese Colon said in a statement to USA Today.

“Actions that were once tolerated or ignored are no longer accepted, and accountability is taking root,” she said, according to USA Today. “That’s progress but creating long-term culture change requires steadfast commitment by everyone in the sport community to fostering safe environments for athletes to fulfill their potential. Those who cling to toxic tactics will be left behind and on the wrong side of history.”

Sappenfield was banned temporarily in 2021 by SafeSport from contacting around a dozen figure skaters and from coaching athletes with another adult around, The Athletic reported. This was during an investigation by Safesport into misconduct allegations.

One of the figure skaters, Tarah Kayne reportedly told USA Today that Sappenfield’s verbal abuse led her to hurting herself at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. in 2019, according to The Athletic.

“By courageously reporting the details of her trauma, Tarah Kayne’s actions may help other survivors to come forward,” U.S. Figure Skating told USA Today in a statement. “U.S. Figure Skating encourages anyone who has been abused or suspects abuse to report it to local law enforcement, the U.S. Center for SafeSport or U.S. Figure Skating.”

Sappenfield was reportedly a good friend of the late figure skater John Coughlin. According to People magazine, he died by suicide in 2019. He died about a day after SafeSport suspended him temporarily due to sexual abuse allegations.

People reached out to Sappenfield for comment but has not yet heard back.

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