by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
USA Swimming’s investigation of Mitch Ivey — a root figure in the organization’s generation-long scandal of youth coach sexual abuse and cover-up — ended last year with the conclusion that no action be taken because of lack of evidence.
Yet we have learned that one of Ivey’s most prominent victims was never even interviewed by USA Swimming investigators — despite having been handed to the organization by a leading women’s sports advocate in a list of names of potential witnesses.
Suzette Moran has confirmed both that she had an intimate relationship with Ivey, beginning when she was 16, and that USA Swimming never contacted her.
Ivey, a former Olympic coach, was also the first successor to the legendary George Haines as head coach of the Santa Clara Swim Club. In 1993, he left as head women’s coach at the University of Florida just as ESPN’s Outside the Lines began filming interviews on campus for an investigative report on Ivey’s history of sexual predation.
Despite these public questions about his sexual conduct, Ivey has never been banned by USA Swimming, and it is believed that he was never even investigated except for the recently-concluded probe ending in the finding of “inconclusive evidence.”
Concussion Inc. has reported that Ivey continues to draw an income from the swimming industry via consultancies and book contracts through the American Swimming Coaches Association. The executive director of ASCA, John Leonard, has justified its own inaction with respect to the endurance of coaches’ careers, despite longstanding allegations of pedophilia, with the argument that ASCA is “not an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form.”
In the Ivey case, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, senior director of advocacy for the Women’s Sports Foundation and professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law, told victims’ attorney B. Robert Allard that she provided the names of people that would be helpful in the investigation of Ivey, including Suzette Moran, to a USA Swimming investigator in 2011.
Moran confirmed that USA Swimming never contacted her either for this investigation or at any time since her story went public on ESPN.
Moran issued the following statement:
“It has come to my attention that over the past few years USA Swimming has been investigating swim coaches for misconduct. After reading articles about various coaches, it appears that USA Swimming is having a difficult time understanding how to conduct comprehensive investigations. I was recently advised that they have cleared Mitch Ivey from any inappropriate actions. It seems that once again they have overlooked several pieces of evidence.
“USA Swimming has never contacted me in regards to their investigation of Mitch Ivey. While I do not see myself as a victim, the fact remains that I started having a relationship with Mitch Ivey at 16 and it continued for several years. The relationship was consensual, and completely open to everyone in USA Swimming, family, and friends. It crossed the world of USA Swimming with the ESPN special that I appeared in back in the early 90’s.
“The fact that USA Swimming closed their file without trying to contact me is disturbing. It is reminiscent of the Catholic Church. I am very easily located via Facebook, Linkedin, Spokeo, Classmates, and my high school. ESPN found me through the UCLA Athletic Department. It is clear that they made no effort to locate me.
“It saddens me that after all of the controversy, Mitch has made the choice to continue to coach, and a team has hired him. It concerns me that the entity who should be investigating and protecting swimmers from predators is still not doing their job, even after such coaches as Andy King and Rick Curl have been incarcerated.
“I am publicly asking for Congress to step in and investigate USA Swimming.”
Attorney Allard said the Ivey case reconfirms that “the leadership at USA Swimming [is] utterly incapable of resolving the glaring sexual abuse issue within its ranks.”
Allard pointed to a 2010 email by David Berkoff, now a vice president of USA Swimming, which identifies Ivey and Moran by name as an example of an improper sexual relationship between a coach and his minor swimmer. Concussion Inc. last year broke the publication of the unexpurgated text of Berkoff’s email, which is viewable at http://muchnick.net/berkoffchidaexchange.pdf.
Allard added: “There is absolutely no excuse for USA Swimming to not interview Ms. Moran. We located her with little effort. In our view, USA Swimming’s leadership doesn’t want to know the truth because it doesn’t care about the truth. These leaders would rather boast about what have proven to us to be worthless rules and 1-800 numbers that they have developed and falsely hold themselves out as champions of sexual abuse victims. These leaders have repeatedly failed the sexual misconduct test and need to remove themselves from office. If they don’t voluntarily resign, Congress should intervene and force them to. This simply has gone on for way too long.”
Suzette Moran’s call for a Congressional investigation follows that of Kelley Davies Currin, an abuse victim of another well-known USA Swimming coach, Rick Curl, who last month was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to statutory rape.
So far, The Washington Post is the most formidable editorial voice reinforcing the need for Congressional intervention.
USA Swimming officials in Colorado Springs, including executive director Chuck Wielgus, safe sport director Susan Woessner, and public relations director Karen Linhart, do not respond to Concussion Inc.’s inquiries.
NEXT: Complete links to Concussion Inc.’s coverage of rapist swim coach Mitch Ivey.