Canadian figure skater says she was unaware of abuse allegations against her ex-partner

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Canadian figure skater Vanessa James said she was “deeply disappointed” with her former French partner Morgan Cipres and had no knowledge of abusive behavior as the two competed together.

James, who competed with Cipres for France in the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, recently came out of retirement to skate with two-time Canadian world champion Eric Radford.

On a conference call Thursday ahead of next week’s Skate Canada International, James, 34, was asked about Cipres.

“I am deeply disappointed that my ex-partner is engaging in this type of behavior, it is extremely important that we believe the victims and support them. And I really commend them for their bravery,” said James, who holds the Canadian citizenship.

Cipres was investigated by the US Center for SafeSport after allegedly sending obscene photos of himself in 2017 to a 13-year-old skater. The Florida State Attorney’s Office filed a third degree felony charge against Cipres in December 2020.

John Zimmerman – who coached the 13-year-old as well as James and Cipres in Florida – has also been suspended by SafeSport, which is investigating sexual abuse in Olympic sports.

SafeSport suspended Zimmerman in March for covering up the alleged abuse of 2017, and allegedly humiliated and threatened the girl after finding out about the incident.

USA Today first reported the alleged abuse and the suspension.

Speaking publicly on the matter for the first time on Thursday, James said she had not commented so far as the investigation was ongoing.

“And I have nothing to do with it. I was not aware of any of these allegations,” she said.

“Although I could or should have supported victims of abuse, people who know me – and I hope the whole world – know that I am a good person and I condemn this type of behavior,” he said. she declared. “I chose not to make a statement, perhaps to my regret, but I hope the victims and survivors know that I salute their bravery and support and believe them. I am sorry if my silence hurt them in any way. “

James and Cipres won the 2019 European title and won bronze at the 2018 world championships.

USA Today reported that Zimmerman pleaded with the girl and her parents to remain silent because Cipres and James were in the final stages of preparation for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, where they finished fifth.

“I support the survivors, I support the victims, I believe them… and everyone who knows me knows that I do not support any type of abuse,” James said.

Stories of sexual abuse in sport are on the rise, particularly in gymnastics and figure skating.

“We are proud of our national safe sport program which helps us protect the skating community,” Skate Canada CEO Debra Armstrong said in a statement.

“The most important element is education, which leads to informed prevention. We take all incidents seriously and are committed to providing a safe environment for everyone. “

WATCH | James and Radford complete the 1st competition together at the Autumn Classic:

Vanessa James and Eric Radford react together to the first competition

The new Canadian pairs team finished 2nd at the Fall Classic, their first international duo event. 5:42

American pairs skater John Coughlin committed suicide in 2019 the day after a provisional suspension from the US Center for SafeSport and US Figure Skating for unspecified conduct.

James and Radford announced in April that they were coming out of retirement to become partners.

Radford, 36, has won two world titles, seven national titles, as well as a pairs bronze medal and a team gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

James and Radford finished fifth at the Finlandia Trophy earlier this month, despite an injury at Radford during the long program. The back of James’ blade punctured Radford’s knee on landing a jump, their second hit on the program.

Radford, who closed the wound with medical glue, said last week’s training was limited by the injury, but they resumed performing all of their elements in training except for the rotation of their pairs.



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