A former Minnesota figure skating coach received a 24-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting one of his skaters from when she was age 14 to 16. Thomas Incantalupo, 48, pleaded guilty in June to two counts of criminal sexual misconduct. He will have to serve a minimum of 16 years in prison.

Incantalupo had been a long-time figure skating coach in the Twin Cities. The survivor’s lawyer said that her client, now 18, showed tremendous courage in making a witness impact statement. She said while Incantalupo can no longer hurt other children, many more young skaters remain at risk.

A disturbing string of scandals for figure skating

Incantalupo’s sentencing was the most severe punishment handed down, so far, in a series of sexual assault cases made public this year in figure skating. Critics say it draws attention to the ineptitude of officials in Olympic-related sports to keep vulnerable athletes safe.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee is under increased scrutiny for how they handle claims of sexual abuse. Congress is considering whether to step up oversight of Olympic sports, including skating and gymnastics.

Attorney blames misplaced priorities by U.S. Figure Skating

After the sentence was handed down in Minnesota, the survivor’s lawyer said U.S. Figure Skating has a “long and shameful history” of putting money and medals as well as the reputation of coaches above protecting child athletes. During her impact statement, the abuse survivor said Incantalupo robbed her of years of her childhood.

Young skaters are particularly vulnerable, as they often train far away from home and their parents. They spend significant amounts of time with their coaches. After a string of scandals, U.S. Figure Skating implemented new rules that keep coaches from living with skaters who are minors, which was once a common occurrence.

Compensation to help survivors heal

It is deplorable that our nation’s elite child athletes face the risk of sexual predation from the very people who are supposed to help them succeed. As a survivor, such abuse can leave you emotionally and developmentally crippled. You have the right to fight back. In addition to criminal charges, you also have the right to sue the perpetrator for the harm they have caused you. Gaining financial damages for your wounds can represent one step towards healing.