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Dear Coach Dick Shoulberg: Isn’t It Time for You to Take Account of the Sex Abuse of Girl Swimmers by Rick Curl and Many Others?

Published August 23rd, 2012, Uncategorized

“Denying knowledge of Rick Curl, Mitch Ivey and others banging their swimmers! It’s a flat out lie. They knew about it because we (coaches and athletes) were all talking about it in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s.… I was told Rick Curl was molesting Kelly Davies for years starting when she was 12 by some of the Texas guys.…”

With confirmation earlier today of the above statement by David Berkoff, naming Rick Curl – see previous post – I turn, for the second time, to an open letter to Richard Shoulberg, who mentored Berkoff in his age-group swimming career, before he went on to Olympic glory, and who now serves with Berkoff on the board of directors of USA Swimming.

Shoulberg has an ex officio spot on the board, in his capacity as board president of the American Swimming Coaches Association. From my studies of the incestuous and musical-chairs character of the governance of organized swimming, Shoulberg has had more or less continuous high positions with both USA Swimming and ASCA for many years. So the probability is quite low that Shoulberg himself doesn’t know a good deal about the sick ways of Rick Curl.

Make no mistake – Shoulberg also is one of the most respected, even revered, figures in the sport. And he has certainly “talked the talk” on fighting the scourge of molestation by coaches of underage swimmers. Internal USA Swimming documents, which have surfaced in the numerous civil lawsuits against the organization by alleged abuse victims, show that Shoulberg advocated a “zero tolerance policy,” lamented that one was not enacted, and worried that USA Swimming would become like the Catholic Church with priest sex abuse – that is, more concerned about institutional image and interests than about coming clean with constituents.

Against that background, we move on to another installment of …

 

Dear Mr. Shoulberg:

Unfortunately, you did not respond to my email of August 11. In the hope of having better luck this time, I am cc’ing James Connor, the head of school at the Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, where you are the long-time aquatics director.

My earlier letter questioned why the American Swimming Coaches Association does not have its own list of banned coaches, to supplement that of USA Swimming, and asked whether you agreed with ASCA executive director John Leonard that ASCA does not deal “directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form.”

Now I have additional questions.

According to court records, you have been subpoenaed to be deposed next Tuesday in Jancy Thompson v. Doe 1 et al. That is the lawsuit, in California Superior Court, in which a swimmer alleges that USA Swimming is liable for her years of abuse at the hands of a coach named Norm Havercroft.

Mr. Shoulberg, what do you know about Rick Curl and how complaints about him and others have been handled by USA Swimming?

In what ways have you “walked the walk” to combat sex abuse in swimming?

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

I look forward to hearing back from you. And the world looks forward to hearing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in next week’s deposition testimony.

Sincerely,

Irvin Muchnick