McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC has filed multiple lawsuits against multiple parties on behalf of survivors who say they were sexually abused by their skating coach. S. Randall “Randy” Hood and Chad McGowan, and Bakari Sellers, Jessica Fickling, Alexandra Benevento, and Pete Strom of Strom Law Firm, are representing the victims.
We have reason to believe there are many more victims out there. If you or your loved one was sexually abused, assaulted, raped, or subjected to unwanted sexual contact, please call us today: 803.327.7800. We are currently reviewing additional cases and want to help you seek justice.
During a press conference, attorney Randy Hood explained that he “was contacted a few weeks ago by a young lady who had, unfortunately, been abused by a coach, by an ice skating coach…. And then other people contacted me. And it became apparent that there was a problem at an ice skating rink in Irmo, South Carolina.”
You can watch the press conference here.
About the lawsuits
The first lawsuit, which uses pseudonyms for both the defendants and the victims, alleges that Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 were both victims of grooming, exploitation, harassment, abuse, inappropriate touching, and other acts of sexual misconduct. The lawsuit names multiple parties:
- The perpetrator of this sexual misconduct, Mark Cockerell: figure skating coach and skating director of the ice rink who, the lawsuit alleges, committed these acts of sexual abuse and misconduct. At the time, Cockerell “was a member of the national governing body of figure skating in Colorado Springs.”
- “XYZ Skating Rink” in Irmo, South Carolina, which employed Cockerell as a Coach.
- “ABC Skating Federation,” the national governing body of figure skating with a charter under the United States Olympic Committee, which is “mandated to provide adequate training, supervision, and security in order to protect the thousands of minor and young-adult member-athletes in U.S. Figure Skating from the ravages of sexual abuse.” Cockerell was a member of ABC Skating Federation when the abuse and misconduct occurred.
Cockerell engaged in grooming behavior with Jane Doe #1, making inappropriate comments about her body and wanting to have a future with her. He eventually convinced her to wear “more sexy skating attires” and to eat dinner with him as his home; over time, he began sending her more sexually graphic messages and convinced her to join him at a hotel room, where he anally raped her.
Jane Doe #2 was a minor – 14 years old – when she started taking lessons with Cockerell. He began grooming her almost immediately, using the same kind of language about her body and their potential future together. Cockerell also started controlling Doe #2’s food intake, which eventually led her to developing an eating disorder. The lawsuit also alleges that Cockerell Roe was often intoxicated when he was at the rink. He touched Doe #2 inappropriately. Eventually, “Jane Doe #2 had a complete mental breakdown and left skating” for good.
An additional lawsuit was filed in federal court in February, on behalf of a third victim, “Jane Doe #3.”
The lawsuits seek the maximum amount of damages allowed under the law, including attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, as well as any punitive damages that can be awarded.
The lawsuits seek to hold the governing body accountable for their failure to keep the skaters safe. As ABC Columbia reports, “if either the skating rink or governing authority had investigated the multiple sexual misconduct complaints made against the coach prior to 2018, he would have been fired and/or arrested before the victims had ever met him.”
“Predators like this coach don’t get caught because the people in charge ignore the repeated complaint against them. If they refuse to protect our young athletes, the courts will do it for them,” Hood said during the press conference.
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC fights for sexual abuse and assault survivors
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC is a well-known trial firm with multiple offices throughout South Carolina, and our attorneys advocate for survivors of abuse. We have represented adult and minor victims in cases against doctors and hospitals, and clergy members as well as religious organizations such as the Southern Baptist Convention. We also advocate for adult survivors of rape and assault, as well as victims of sex trafficking.
Our attorneys are licensed in all South Carolina courts as well as federal courts, which allows us to file lawsuits on behalf victims like Does #1, #2, and #3. We have secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients; these damage awards can include:
- Medical expenses, including hospital costs, medication costs, and trauma care, as well as long-term expenses for therapy or counseling.
- Lost wages and income, including endorsements (if applicable), as well as parental lost wages and benefits such as insurance, if the parent needed to become a full-time caretaker of their abused child.
- Pain and suffering, both mental and physical
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life (hedonic damages)
- Expenses related to loss of services, if applicable
If you were sexually groomed, abused, raped, assaulted, or otherwise harmed by a former Olympian-turned-figure skating coach, or indeed by any coach or predator, McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC would like to help you. If you or your child has been sexually abused by a coach, we want to help your child. We offer a safe and secure environment in which to speak with a sexual abuse attorney, and have both male and female attorneys who can help you. Please call 803.327.7800 or complete our contact form for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood