Ex-suburban coach convicted of sexually abusing young ice skater


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A jury found a northern Illinois ice skating coach guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving a young skater.

The verdict against Eugene Heffron, 83, was announced Friday by the Winnebago County state’s attorney’s office. The girl was between the ages of 9 and 15 when the abuse occurred from 1999-2006.

She was among three former skaters who accused the longtime coach in Rockford of sexual misconduct in 2018. Illinois State Police conducted an investigation after reports that skaters were touched inappropriately during lessons, the Rockford Register Star reported that year.

Heffron is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27, 2023. He faces between three and seven years in prison, according to prosecutors. He also could receive probation.

Trial dates involving two additional victims have not been set.

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Heffron, a member of the U.S. ice dancing demonstration team at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France, had taught figure skating for the Rockford Park District on and off since 1984 and helped put on ice shows, the Rockford Register Star reported. He also taught in the district’s Learn to Skate program and gave one-on-one instruction to skaters who had trained in the Rockford area.

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