EXCLUSIVE: Olympic Coach Mark Schubert Helped Spy on World-Record Swimmer and Her Coach — Leaked Relationship Info to Washington Post

Published January 24th, 2013, Uncategorized

Mark Schubert, the head Olympic swim coach whom USA Swimming abruptly terminated in 2010, helped hire a private investigator to track the relationship of a swimmer with her coach at California’s Fullerton Aquatic Swim Team (FAST) U.S. Olympic Professional Post-Graduate Team, ConcussionInc.net has learned. Schubert then joined in leaking the investigator’s findings to a Washington Post reporter.

Articles in late 2010 and early 2011 by the Post‘s Amy Shipley prompted a hurried investigation by USA Swimming of the relationship, widely rumored among insiders, between FAST coach Sean Hutchison and his long-time swimmer from the Seattle area, world record holder Ariana Kukors. Though the swimming body quickly announced that its probe cleared Hutchison of any wrongdoing, he resigned from FAST in its wake.

The acknowledgment by Schubert that he gave the name of a private investigator to Bill Jewell, who at the time was CEO of FAST, and that the Jewell-hired investigator proceeded to follow Hutchison and Kukors, emerged in a deposition by Schubert in a lawsuit against him and his Huntington Beach-based Golden West Swim Club by Dia Rianda, a coach and major USA Swimming fundraiser and philanthropist.

Rianda, Schubert’s former general manager at Golden West, claims he wrongfully fired her after she blew the whistle on alleged sexual misconduct by Jewell, who had become a Golden West assistant senior coach after leaving FAST. Rianda also says in the suit that she urged Schubert to come forward in other ways about his wider knowledge of the historic sex-abuse problem throughout swimming.

Among other charges in her explosive lawsuit, Rianda says Schubert sporadically and ineffectively informed USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus of what he knew about the molestations of teen swimmer Kelley Davies in the 1980s by Rick Curl, her Washington, D.C., area coach. Last year the ex-swimmer, now named Kelley Currin, went public with her story, and Curl accepted a lifetime ban by USA Swimming and was indicted on statutory rape charges in Montgomery County, Maryland.

B. Robert Allard, Rianda’s attorney, submitted all the information in this article in a letter today to USA Swimming headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I obtained a copy of the letter from an independent source. Reached at his office in San Jose, Allard confirmed the authenticity of the material here but declined further comment.

One purpose of the letter is Allard’s demand to know why a USA Swimming internal investigation of Schubert and Jewell, on various counts of alleged misconduct, has remained open for almost a year — in contrast with the Hutchison probe, which was commissioned, completed, and acted upon in a matter of weeks. Another purpose of the letter is Allard’s general and ongoing campaign to expose the magnitude of the widespread sexual molestation of young swimmers — a problem far wider and deeper than the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, and approaching the levels of the Catholic Church priest scandals. Allard heads a victims’ attorneys’ group promoting removal of the current USA Swimming leadership and other measures to clean up the sport.

Hutchison’s resignation from FAST was discussed briefly in a long article by me last July, which was originally assigned by Yahoo Sports but wound up being published at the parents’ sports website MomsTeam. The piece was reprinted on this blog at http://concussioninc.net/?p=6182. I spoke with Hutchison at the time, and today I emailed him for comment on this new development. I also attempted to alert Kukors to this publication and to solicit her comment.

Finally, I emailed both former Post reporter Shipley and USA Swimming officials. Last year Shipley left the Post for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, but I do not see her name in current staff listings. I emailed her at a private gmail address that was good last year.

Attorney Allard’s information about Shubert and the private investigator who tracked Hutchison and Kukors came in this passage of the letter to Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s safe sport director:

“Toward the end of 2010, in accordance with Mr. Schubert’s sworn testimony, he provided Mr. Jewell with the name of a private investigator for the purpose of conducting surveillance on a swim coach at FAST named Sean Hutchison, who was suspected of having an improper relationship with at least one of his swimmers. A private investigator was consequently hired and as a result, states Mr. Schubert in his deposition, at least one photograph was taken which, based on the description provided by Mr. Schubert, depicted the respective cars of Mr. Hutchison and one of his swimmers named Ariana Kukors parked close together in the same parking lot just outside the apartment complex in which Mr. Hutchison lived taken in the early morning hours at approximately 5 AM.”

Allard goes on to write:

“Mr. Schubert admitted that he provided information about Mr. Hutchinson to Amy Shipley and the Washington Post, which led to the publication of a December 30, 2010 article about ‘rumors’ of Mr. Hutchinson having inappropriate relations with swimmers (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/29/AR2010122903703.html).  We suspect, when the totality of the circumstances is considered, that this leak was part of a preconceived plan by coaches Jewell and Schubert to force out Mr. Hutchison from FAST so that Mr. Schubert could take his place and thereby have a place to coach his Olympic athletes, principally multiple gold medal winner Janet Evans. We also suspect that Mr. Jewell, in furtherance of this plan, confronted Mr. Hutchison with the photograph and coerced him to voluntarily leave his employ with FAST or else the relationship with Ms. Kukors would be exposed.  Regardless of what truly happened to Mr. Hutchison and FAST, and we will continue to investigate the matter, the end result was that coach Hutchison abruptly resigned from FAST at the end of December 2010 as reported by USA Today (see http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2010-12-29-sean-hutchison-swimming-coach_N.htm) and Swimming World (see http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/26044.asp).”

*****

Ariana Kukors, who holds the world record in the women’s 200-meter individual medley, was 21 years old at the time the Post covered the rumored relationship between Hutchison and an unnamed swimmer. Even consenting sexual relations between a coach and one of his adult athletes are regarded, at minimum, as unprofessional and unethical, because they could compromise sports decisions and they put at a disadvantage others competing under the coach. The extent to which such practices also constitute USA Swimming code violations has been the subject of interpretation and debate inside the swimming community.

Last year the Aquatic Sports Convention legislature, meeting in North Carolina, rejected a proposal to ban all coach-swimmer sexual contact, even subsequent to athletic affiliations. The proposal was driven by evidence that many coaches, away from the pool deck, exploit a power imbalance in their supervision of underage swimmers, often in a years-long process known as “grooming,” before undertaking explicitly sexual relations.

The new legislation had been recommended by the USA Swimming Rules Committee. In explaining the measure’s rejection by the plenary, USA Swimming leadership cites participatory democracy.

Kukors, a native of Federal Way, Washington, swam from a young age under Hutchison at the King Aquatic Club in Seattle.

*****

Spying on Hutchison and Kukors, and possibly blackmailing the former, are only part of the bill of particulars against Mark Schubert and Bill Jewell which are outlined in Allard’s letter to USA Swimming. The organization’s investigation, which dates back to last summer, involves allegations of conduct code violations by Jewell, such as inappropriate touching of children and inappropriate sexual conduct directed toward minors. Paralleling the Rianda lawsuit, Schubert is accused of retaliation against an individual bringing a good-faith complaint under the conduct code.

Shortly, ConcussionInc.net will reproduce the full text of Allard’s letter.

Months after Hutchison left FAST, in July 2011, Jewell himself was fired as the club’s CEO. He subsequently sued on grounds of age discrimination. Depositions of minor swimmers in that case reveal that Jewell repeatedly made sexual references and off-color remarks to his athletes of all ages. One girl recalled his advising her to delay a field trip to Washington so he could have sex with her boyfriend at the Lincoln Memorial.

Landing at Golden West, Jewell told Dia Rianda that his dismissal at FAST stemmed from the knowledge of USA Swimming officials that he and Schubert had been the Washington Post sources on Hutchison.

Soon, Rianda says, she and other Golden West coaches observed Jewell massaging girls while they were in swim suits, texting with them after practice, fraternizing with them in isolated areas away from the pool deck, and walking minor girls to the parking lot with his arm around them.

In early 2012, assistant coaches reported to Rianda that they saw Jewell sitting in his truck alone with a minor swimmer, to whom he had once referred as having “a big rack.” The assistants then met with Schubert to present him with these and other grievances regarding Jewell’s conduct. During the same period, Rianda brought to the attention of her boss that the evidence emerging in Jewell’s lawsuit against FAST showed that he had been dismissed, in large part, because of similar behavior. On legal and other grounds, Rianda questioned the wisdom of retaining Jewell at Golden West, and pressed unsuccessfully for Schubert to enforce USA Swimming’s new safe sport guidelines.

That summer, Schubert fired Rianda.

 
Irv Muchnick