SafeSport permanently bans figure skater Kerry

Olympics

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The U.S. Center for SafeSport has permanently banned Brendan Kerry, a prominent Australian figure skater, for “sexual misconduct involving a minor,” according to the organization’s website.

According to a confidential summary of SafeSport’s investigation that was obtained by ESPN, Kerry provided alcohol to and engaged in sexual intercourse with a then-16- or 17-year-old figure skater while he was 21 or 22 years old, on multiple occasions in 2016 and 2017. SafeSport also investigated claims that Kerry forced a second skater into nonconsensual sex at a party in 2016, but the report did not find sufficient evidence to prove that.

Gracie Gold, a two-time national champion and Olympic bronze medalist, told ESPN she is the second skater mentioned in the report. SafeSport found that Kerry had kissed Gold “over her objection” during a separate incident in 2017.

The sanctions, which are not yet final and are subject to appeal, according to SafeSport’s website, would bar Kerry from participating in any events or at any arenas under the control of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Kerry did not respond to a request for comment sent to a phone number associated with him Tuesday. A spokesperson for SafeSport declined to comment on the specifics of the Kerry case, citing the organization’s policy aimed at protecting the privacy of all parties involved in an investigation.

Kerry, 29, was the co-flagbearer for Australia at the 2022 Beijing Olympics and won seven consecutive national titles in Australia between 2013 and 2019. Kerry was at one time a member of U.S. Figure Skating, according to SafeSport’s findings, and spent significant time training in the United States.

SafeSport, the U.S. Olympic Movement’s sexual misconduct watchdog, does not have jurisdiction outside the United States. SafeSport is allowed to share the result of its investigation with other international sports organizations but does not have authority to decide if Kerry can compete or train at future events outside the U.S.

The Australian Olympic Committee told ESPN it learned of Kerry’s ban Wednesday morning (Australian time) and needed to gather more information before commenting, but that it considered it to be a “very serious matter.”

According to SafeSport’s summary, Kerry “admitted to engaging in a sexual relationship with Claimant 1 for an unknown period of time beginning in or around September 2016 when she was 17 years old” but claimed he was unaware that she was too young to provide consent for sexual acts. Kerry told SafeSport’s investigators his interaction with the second claimant — Gold — was consensual.

The skater referred to as “Claimant 1” in SafeSport’s report told ESPN that she reported to SafeSport and then law enforcement that she felt Kerry “isolated and manipulated” her before engaging in multiple sexual interactions with her over a period of several months while she was underage. The skater asked ESPN to keep her identity anonymous because she was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse and still coaches in the sport.

In addition to being too young to consent, the skater described being “pinned down” and telling Kerry “no” on at least one occasion, according to SafeSport’s report, an allegation Kerry denied to investigators. While she also spoke to police about Kerry, the skater ultimately decided in 2021 that she did not wish to proceed with criminal charges, according to the police report obtained by ESPN.

“It’s complicated. I don’t think I would characterize it as relief,” she told ESPN of her reaction to SafeSport’s sanction. “It puts it out there on Twitter and people see it and read it, but it took so incredibly long. Time and time again, it proves how dysfunctional the system is.”

Gold first publicly shared details of an alleged assault in her recently published memoir. She wrote that she remembers being assaulted after a party in a hotel room in California in 2016. Gold did not name Kerry in the book, but told ESPN that he was the skater she described. She wrote that he “forced himself” upon her despite her objections after they both had been drinking.

According to SafeSport’s report, however, “insufficient evidence is available to determine if, on or about December 2016, in California, [Kerry] engaged in nonconsensual sexual intercourse with [Gold] … While she was intoxicated and unable to consent,” citing “inconsistencies and contradictory information” from Gold and witnesses interviewed by the organization.

Kerry told SafeSport investigators that he engaged in sexual intercourse with Gold at the party but described the encounter as consensual, according to SafeSport’s report.

SafeSport found that Kerry kissed Gold “over her objection” at a separate party in 2017. Kerry told SafeSport that he and Gold engaged in consensual kissing on “several occasions” and that Gold never told him she didn’t want to be kissed.

According to her memoir, Gold reported the alleged 2016 assault in roughly 2017 to Mitch Moyer, who previously served as U.S. Figure Skating’s senior director of athlete high performance. According to Gold’s book, Moyer “said he reported my incident, as he was required to do.”

U.S. Figure Skating did not have a comment as of Tuesday evening.

SafeSport only has jurisdiction to pursue investigations involving active members of a U.S.-based national governing body. It’s not clear if Kerry was a U.S. Figure Skating member in 2017. According to the report obtained by ESPN, Kerry was a member when SafeSport received an additional incident report about him in March 2020.

“I feel a myriad of emotions,” Gold told ESPN on Tuesday. “Part of me is relieved that his name is finally out there, part of me feels some frustration that it took this long for action to be taken.”

In a statement provided to ESPN on Tuesday night, SafeSport CEO Ju’Riese Colon said the organization has recently made multiple changes to improve its processes.

“We recognize how painful it can be to come forward, and we are committed to continuously improving to meet the needs of the athletes we serve,” Colon said. “The Center has recently taken a series of actions to increase efficiency, information sharing and trauma sensitivity in our process. Some of these improvements include merging the Response and Resolution and Legal departments into a cohesive unit, ensuring minimum time frames for consistent communication with parties, and investing in process education and training.”

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