Arrested US skating coach accused of sexually abusing teen

A former coach for the Soviet Union 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, New York, for a competition in July 2011. The suit, filed in July in Prince George's County, Maryland, 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 urged her to delete them.

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.

The father's attorney has not returned calls seeking comment.

Sretenski, 50, was arrested Tuesday in Howard County on the New York criminal warrant. Authorities there won't talk about the case because the indictment remains sealed, except to say that it involves an allegation from last year in Lake Placid, a hub of figure skating training and competition.

Sretenski's attorney said he is innocent.

"He denies anything improper. Yes, absolutely," attorney Rene Sandler said Wednesday. She did not return a phone message Thursday.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit, 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." He declined to comment on whether the criminal charges and the civil case stem from the same allegations.

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, Maryland, 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 the first 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 that she was advised not to speak with him the by 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 a defendant the rink where Sretenski taught. A woman who answered the phone there Thursday declined to comment.