UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) — A coach arrested on a warrant from New York is accused in a lawsuit in Maryland of fondling a teenage figure skater in his hotel room.
The lawsuit accuses Genrikh Sretenski of kissing the girl and touching her breasts against her will as the two were in Lake Placid, N.Y., for a competition in July 2011.
The suit, filed in July in Prince George’s County, Md., by the girl’s father, also alleges Sretenski sent more than 500 text messages, including “I go crazy when I look at you” and “I love you,” and continued making advances even after she asked him to stop.
The girl, identified in court papers as an “elite, nationally acclaimed skater,” quit the sport because of what happened and suffered severe emotional distress, according to the lawsuit, which seeks $5 million in damages.
The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault and is not naming the girl’s father to protect her identity.
Sretenski, 50, was arrested Tuesday in Howard County, Md., on the New York criminal warrant. Authorities there won’t talk about the case because the charges remain sealed. They have said, however, that it involves an allegation from last year in Lake Placid, a hub of figure skating training and competition. Sretenski remained held without bond in Howard County. He faces a bail review hearing Monday.
Rene Sandler, his attorney, said the New York charges include felony sexual abuse, and misdemeanor child endangerment and forcible touching. But she said she didn’t have information about the date or location of the alleged abuse and could not say whether the criminal and civil cases came from the same allegations. She has said he’s innocent and “denies anything improper.” She also said she had not been served with the lawsuit.
The attorney who filed the suit, Salvatore Zambri, said in an email that, “Sretenski’s denial makes his conduct all the more reprehensible” and that he expects “justice to be appropriately served.”
Sretenski, who was born in Moscow, competed across Europe in the 1980s in ice dancing. In 1988, he and Natalia Annenko placed fourth at the Olympic Games in Calgary. The lawsuit spells his first name as Genrikh, but some other court records identify him as Genrich.
According to the lawsuit, he coached the girl at a rink in Laurel, Md., near Washington, and made suggestive comments to her leading up to the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships. The suit alleges he told the teenager that “cute girls” always cause him problems and also that, “I like you, maybe more than like you.” After one night of competition, according to the suit, Sretenski texted her around midnight to talk about the event. He led her to his hotel room, kissed her, put her on his lap and touched her breasts, the suit says. The teenager left the room.
The lawsuit says that on separate occasions after the first encounter, she continued to receive text messages and be inappropriately touched, despite telling Sretenski to stop. She ultimately told him she was advised not to speak with him by the Prince George’s County police and by the child protective services agency. A county police spokeswoman had no immediate information Thursday on the matter.
The suit also names as defendants a skating program that employed Sretenski as an instructor and the owner of a rink where he provided lessons. A woman who answered the phone there declined to comment.
Associated Press writer Alex Dominguez in Baltimore contributed to this report.
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