Skating official who had sexual relationship with 16-year-old drops out of competition

Christopher Pottenger, the 31-year-old U.S. Figure Skating official and coach who was suspended in 2010 for “inappropriate and unethical conduct” that three people with direct knowledge of the situation say stemmed from a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male skater, did not attend an important regional skating competition in Dallas that he was scheduled to work last weekend.

“On Friday, we were made aware Christopher Pottenger would not attend Skate Dallas,” USFS spokeswoman Barb Reichert said in an email Monday night to USA TODAY Sports.

Reichert provided no further information about Pottenger and why he wasn’t in Dallas. Pottenger declined comment through his attorney.

More: Official’s sexual relationship with 16-year-old skater draws scrutiny

A person close to Pottenger who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter told USA TODAY Sports that Pottenger voluntarily decided not to attend Skate Dallas.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport is investigating Pottenger regarding the relationship which occurred in 2009, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation, but spokesman Dan Hill did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Pottenger was suspended for six months on May 1, 2010, by the Professional Skaters Association, the sport’s coaches organization, then placed on probation for an additional 24 months.

“I was a coach dating a skater,” Pottenger said in a telephone interview in March. “I was never his coach and never gave him a lesson.”  

Asked how old the skater was, Pottenger said, “I don’t recall that right now. I don’t recall that. I remember reviewing all the laws.”

Asked if he ever had a relationship with someone under 18, Pottenger replied, “I think that’s the end of my statement.”

In Delaware, a 16- or 17-year-old can legally consent to sex with a partner under the age of 30. Pottenger was 22 at the time of his relationship with the skater, whose name is not being used by USA TODAY because the skater was 16 at the time of the relationship.

“As the story clearly stated, the actions described were not illegal in Delaware,” Reichert said. 

She added, “As an organization, U.S. Figure Skating works tirelessly to provide a safe and healthy environment for our athletes. This includes background checks, educating members and parents about harassment and abuse and how to report a SafeSport complaint. We tell our members, ‘if you see something, say something.’ We continue to work closely with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which has full jurisdiction and adjudication of matters involving sexual misconduct or abuse of all NGB members of the U.S. Olympic Committee.”

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