Police probe French skater Cipres over sexual abuse of teen


Los Angeles (AFP)

Police in Florida have opened an investigation into allegations that French figure skater Morgan Cipres sexually abused a 13-year-old girl in 2017, USA Today reported on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Pasco County Sheriff's Office told USA Today that an investigation had been launched after police received new information in the case.

"I can confirm the case has been reopened due to new or additional information,” spokesperson Amanda Hunter was quoted as saying, describing the case as "an ongoing, active investigation."

An attorney for Cipres' alleged victim told the paper the teenager was "fully cooperating with the investigation."

Last year it emerged Cipres was being investigated by the United States Center for SafeSport for allegedly sending lewd photographs to the 13-year-old in December 2017.

Cipres, a two-time Olympian and pairs bronze medallist at the 2018 World Championship with partner Vanessa James, is alleged to have sent two photos of his penis to the girl, who skated at the same Florida rink as the Frenchman.

When contacted by the paper previously, Cipres, 29, declined to comment, saying only: "I cannot talk with you about anything about that. I mean, I have nothing to say about this allegation."

USA Today reported previously that Cipres' coaches -- former Olympians John Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana -- had warned the girl's family not to report the incident to authorities at the time.

According to USA Today, a fourth adult was also involved in the incident, named as coach Vinny Dispenza.

Dispenza is alleged to have told the girl and another underage girl to message Cipres requesting photos in exchange for the promise of a pizza.

USA Today said the girl and her parents were urged by Zimmerman and Fontana not to raise the matter with police or the US Center for SafeSport so as to avoid disrupting Cipres and James' preparations for the 2018 Olympics.

Cipres and James have been skating partners since 2010, and are planning to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing.