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World-class ice dancer, coach arrested in Howard County on New York sex charges

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A world-class ice dancer and figure skating coach is expected in Howard County courtroom on Monday after being accused of sex offenses in New York, charges that come on top of a civil suit alleging that he fondled a figure skater he mentored in Laurel.

Genrikh Sretenski, who was born in Russia and placed fourth in the 1988 Olympics, will have an opportunity to ask for bail on felony sex abuse and related allegations.

He has been held without bail in Howard County since he was taken in handcuffs Tuesday from his Clarksville home, Rene Sandler, his lawyer, said. Court hearings this week were postponed at Sandler's request.

She said she is still looking for information on the charges brought in Essex County, N.Y. -- the home of Lake Placid, an area that figures prominently in ice skating competition and training. She said Sretenski denies wrongdoing.

In the Prince George's County civil suit, Sretenski is accused of a fondling a girl he coached at a Laurel rink while they were in Lake Placid a year ago for a competition.

The lawsuit alleges that while driving home from the ice rink in Laurel before the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships last July, Sretenski, told the girl "not to look at him because it made him 'feel things' and that 'cute girls always cause him problems. Big problems.'"

In late July, at the competition, she fled from his hotel room because he fondled her after he brought her there to discuss the competition, the lawsuit alleges. It also contends that he sent her more than 500 text messages that included "I love you" and made references to their alleged "love affair." He is accused of continuing to touch her despite her protests.

In mid-August, she stopped attending practice, and responded to his text with: "I'm being advised by the PG county police and child protection services not to speak to you." After that, the lawsuit alleges, that he inquired whether her father knew and would tell his wife. A Prince George's County police spokeswoman said Friday she had no information on the allegations.

Sandler had no comment on the lawsuit "other than to deny any wrongdoing," noting Sretenski has not been served legal papers in that matter.

It was not clear whether the criminal charges are related to the $5 million civil lawsuit filed against the 50-year-old coach. The charging paperwork in New York remains sealed, officials there said.

Both New York State police and the lawsuit refer to alleged 2011 incidents. The lawsuit, in Prince George's County, was filed by the girl's father and does not name her, identifying her as a minor and "elite, nationally acclaimed skater" who quit skating because of her distress over what happened.

"He absolutely denies the [criminal] allegations as we understand them. He denies committing any criminal act and looks forward to the justice system working and the case being tried accordingly," Sandler said.

"His denial of wrongdoing makes his conduct all the more reprehensible," the attorney for the girl's family, Salvatore J. Zambri, said in an email Friday.

The Sun, which does not identify people who alleged to be victims of sex crimes, is not naming the girl's father to shield her identity.

Though long out of competition, Sretenski's name is well-known in skating circles. Skating forums buzzed comment and speculation about the criminal charges. Some noted that in his tenure as a coach, these were the only such allegations made against him.

During the 1980s, Sretenski competed in ice dancing. With his partner Natalia Annenko, he took several medals, and the pair came in fourth in the 1988 Olympics. After that, he skated professionally with Stars on Ice and other groups. He has coached Olympians.

Whether Sretenski is still employed as a skating coach was unclear Friday. The facility where he worked and an ice dance program were named as defendants in the civil lawsuit.

He remained on the website Friday of the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, where he was listed as the ice dance director of the Mid Atlantic Skating School. A woman who answered the phone at the facility said the rink's president was not in, and only he could speak for the Laurel center.

The suit names as a defendant the Mid Atlantic Ice Dance College, saying Sretenski worked at a camp run by the college. A lawyer for that organization could not be reached Friday.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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