French Olympic Figure Skater Morgan Cipres Facing Felony Sexual Abuse Charges

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2020

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France react to their scores following their performance in the pair figure skating short program in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

French Olympic figure skater Morgan Cipres is facing a third-degree felony charge for the transmission of material harmful to a minor by electronic device.

Christine Brennan of USA Today reported the news Tuesday, noting a warrant was issued for Cipres' arrest after the Florida state attorney's office filed the charge. If convicted, Cipres could face up to five years in prison.

Cipres, who is now 29 years old, allegedly sent lewd photos of himself on Instagram to a 13-year-old American female figure skater who trained at the same rink in Florida in 2017. The U.S. Center for SafeSport and the Pasco County (Florida) Sheriff's Office have investigated the case. 

Cipres and his pairs partner, Vanessa James, retired in September amid the investigation even though they were expected to compete for a medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

According to Brennan, the girl and her parents said Cipres' coaches, John Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana, attempted to stop them from reporting the incident when the French figure skater was preparing for the 2018 Olympics.

The girl's parents said Zimmerman and Fontana did so by "shaming and threatening the girl."

Both coaches denied the allegations, while Cipres told USA Today in 2019 he had "nothing to say about this allegation."

Andrea Lewis, the attorney for the girl and her family, said the charge was "the first step towards justice for the victim and her family. No child should ever have to go through anything like this. By filing felony charges against Morgan Cipres, the State of Florida has sent a clear message to him and other men who prey on children."