U.S. Speedskating suspends Kim Dong-Sung from coaching in wake of corporal punishment accusations
Thursday, March 3, 2011; 12:18 AM
U.S. Speedskating suspended the coaching credentials and membership of an Olympic champion speedskating coach based in Northern Virginia and notified Maryland Child Protective Services of corporal punishment allegations against the coach, the organization announced late Wednesday night.
Kim Dong-Sung, a two-time Olympic medal winner for South Korea, will be banned from attending the sport's March 11-13 national championships in Weston, Wis., or any other sanctioned events, according to U.S. Speedskating President Brad Goskowicz. He could face additional punitive action ranging from long-term suspension to expulsion pending the outcome of a hearing, Goskowicz said.
U.S. Speedskating began investigating Kim last Thursday, days after The Washington Post reported that six skaters said Kim abused them or they saw Kim inflict corporal punishment on other skaters. A seventh later came forward. U.S. Speedskating Executive Director Mark Greenwald and board member Andrew Love conducted the investigation, interviewing current and former students of Kim.
"These were first-hand accounts," Goskowicz said. "These weren't allegations that I heard happened, or I think happened, these were people stepping forward . . . saying this happened to me. . . . [We] found the testimony between the athletes was remarkably similar, which of course added to the credibility of what they were telling us."
The board made the decision to suspend Kim on Sunday night and spent the next two days notifying those involved and working out other details.
A hearing will occur in the coming weeks, Goskowicz said.
The skaters, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, told The Post that Kim had used hockey sticks, skate-blade guards, hammers and hand timers to hit them on the buttocks, stomach and hands, or he kicked them. They said the abuse usually occurred in the locker room or during dry-land training, out of the view of their parents.
Kim denied hitting or abusing any skater during an interview with The Post last month at SkateQuest, a rink in Reston. Several parents at his current club, DS Speedskating, defended him, saying the charges had been manufactured by parents motivated by financial disputes or jealous of Kim's success. He could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Goskowicz said Kim had been notified through e-mail and certified mail.
U.S. Speedskating sent a letter by e-mail to each of the families from which it had obtained evidence against Kim, informing them of the action taken and providing explicit instructions on reporting the abuse allegations to Maryland Child Protective Services. Most of the violations were believed to have occurred at venues in Maryland, Goskowicz said. The letter, signed by Greenwald, requested that skaters "consider coming forward to stand behind your statements made to us."
"The courage of so many young people to speak up truly moved us," the letter said. "We have found shocking similarities across many of your accounts."
Kim, who moved to the United States soon after retiring from professional skating in 2002, coached for the now-defunct Wheaton Speedskating Club in 2007-08 and the Potomac Speedskating Club in 2008-10. He left both clubs as allegations of abuse emerged, according to several parents and officials from the clubs.