Champion Skater John Coughlin's Coach Blames Sex Misconduct Accusations For His Suicide

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Jan. 22 2019, Updated 3:35 p.m. ET

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John Coughlin's former coach believes sexual misconduct allegations and social media shaming are to blame for the four-time skating champion's suicide, can exclusively report.

Dalilah Sappenfield, who coached Coughlin during the 2011 and 2012 U.S. Championships and calls the late star "second family," told he "didn't have a mean bone in his body" despite accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior against minors.

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The pro athlete hit a "low point" after he was suspended from the sport following the allegations.

"I am saddened with great grief that a young man who was the kindest, caring, and an extremely admired person hit such a low point because of the loss of all he knows," Sappenfield said in an exclusive interview with

"John lost his reputation, his name, his work, his dignity and what he loved most, skating."

Sappenfield claimed social media trolls who lashed out against Coughlin after the accusations were directly responsible for his death.

"The irresponsibility of today's social media, whose opinions became trial and persecution is what led this beautiful young man to give up on life," she said.

"Being shunned for allegations not proven was something I knew was hard for him to live with, but the mere rumor of assault and not being given the chance to defend himself is what sent him over the edge."

John Coughlin
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As previously reported, Coughlin committed suicide on Friday, January 18 in his native Kansas City, Missouri. He was 33 years old.

"He was a beautiful soul who saw the good in everyone," the coach added. "He made you smile with his infectious laugh. John was a man of great integrity and just such a class act. Everyone knows John was one of the good guys."

Coughlin will be remembered with a funeral in Kansas City on January 29. His former partner Caydee Denney and her family will attend, her mother told

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