OPEN COMMUNICATION TO USA SWIMMING CONCERNING MEMBER COACH MITCH IVEY
To: Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming
C/o Richard Young, Esq.
Date: June 29, 2013
Dear Mr. Wielgus:
We have the privilege of representing Suzette Moran.
We are sending this communication to you through your attorney because he has threatened State Bar action against us if we correspond with you directly even though there is no pending litigation against USA Swimming on this matter, at least for now. We have heard of lawyers who use any excuse to bill files but this “takes the cake”. Perhaps this is one reason why USA Swimming spends millions of dollars each year on sex abuse matters alone (at least in the last few years). Under your direction, at least twelve (12) separate law firms and over twenty four (24) lawyers who have been retained by USA Swimming in an attempt to thwart the achievement of justice for sex abuse victims. Someday, perhaps soon, things will be different such that these monies are expended toward the treatment and care of these victims as opposed to lining pockets of lawyers who get rich by employing shameful “scorched earth litigation” strategies. Until then, the small band of attorneys that comprise Lawyers Against the Sex Abuse of Children (“LASAC”) will not be deterred. The cause is too just and the stakes too high. We are talking about the prevention of sex abuse involving children and no amount of devious legal tactics will impede the movement that we have created. We will not stop until this corrupt leadership group has been replaced with people who take seriously the obligation to protect children, especially from sexual abuse.
Mitch Ivey is a disgraced former USA Swimming Olympic swimmer and coach. Along with Rick Curl, his name arose early and often ever since we exposed the USA Swimming sex abuse scandal approximately four (4) years ago. Ivey represents the epitome of “good old boy mentality” that that has afflicted the great sport of swimming for decades. He has been and continues to be protected by USA Swimming despite his prolific sexual activity with his swimmers.
Ivey replaced the legendary George Haines as head coach of the one of USA Swimming’s crown jewels, Santa Clara International Swim Club in 1974. His assistant coaches included Andy King and Don King, the former a convicted serial predator and the latter an alleged predator who surrendered his USA Swimming credentials when confronted by former swimmers. Surely you remember Andy King, right? Recall that you told the nation in response to questions presented by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” T.J. Quinn in 2010 that Andy King “wasn’t even on our radar” until he was arrested in the spring of 2010, when in truth you personally handled separate sex abuse claims against him in, respectively, 2002 and 2003 and ordered that at least one of them be “kept confidential”.
At Santa Clara, where he remained until 1981, Ivey seduced a young and underage swimmer named Noel Moran. It is convenient for you to use Ms. Moran’s suicide as a reason to close your investigation of Mr. Ivey. Did it ever occur to you to interview Ms. Moran’s mother and father or even her many brothers and sisters? It is our belief, shared by many, that Ms. Moran committed suicide because of the unbearable emotional pain inflicted by the childhood sexual abuse committed by Ivey. On information and belief, Ms. Moran left Mr. Ivey when she caught him having sex with another underage girl. The turmoil created by Ivey and the Kings repulsed your own Dick Shoulberg, who openly lamented about the “mess” that he had to clean up the mess created by his predecessors at Santa Clara. Surely, those in power at the time within USA Swimming had full knowledge of this disaster and the reasons for it.
Sadly, Ivey was allowed to continue to coach, this time at the Concord-Pleasant Hill Swim Club starting in 1981, with predictable results. It is here that Ivey took advantage of his coach-athlete relationship with Ms. Suzette Moran (no relationship to Noel). We suspect that the reason you steered clear of Ms. Moran is identical to the reason why you have chosen over the years to not contact other victims of sex abuse, such as Deena Deardurff-Schmidt, Kelley Currin and Jancy Thompson: you are afraid of what the victims will have to say and you might have been forced to do something. Better to bury your head in the sand and so that you can claim ignorance, right? In this case you would have learned that indeed Mitch Ivey had a sexual relationship with an underage swimmer that was widely known in the swim community. The two of them even lived together. Your own Vice President David Berkoff claimed that he and Pablo Morales (a former swimmer under Ivey) openly discussed the sexual affair between the two (see attached).
Despite his widely known history of seducing young swimmers, Ivey was stunningly named to your 1988 Olympic Team as an assistant coach. You are protecting a culture inside USA Swimming that continues to place the interests of your coaches ahead of sexual abuse victims. As such, you are as much to blame for the actions of your predator coaches as the coaches themselves.
After the summer Olympics in 1988, Ivey succeeded Randy Reese as head coach of the University of Florida swimming and diving team. Ivey was subsequently fired from that position after another ESPN “Outside the Lines” production recounted Ivey’s sexual encounters with several of his previous swimmers, including Ms. Moran.
Instead of conducting your own investigation of Ivey in 1993, you continued to protect him from further punishment. As a consequence, Mr. Ivey was allowed relocate to another swim coach position completely unscathed despite the revealing ESPN documentary. Even after the Florida debacle, Ivey continued to coach minor swimmers at the Trinity Prep Aquatics team in Winter Park, Florida.
Mr. Berkoff was deposed in January of 2012 (see attached). At this time, Mr. Berkoff produced a list of known or suspected pedophiles within the world of USA Swimming (see attached “Berkoff List”) which not surprisingly included Mr. Ivey (see coach #103 on the “List”). Mr. Berkoff represents all that is wrong with USA Swimming. As with Rick Curl, Mr. Berkoff had intimate knowledge about Ivey and yet he has taken no known steps since he became Vice President in 2010 to ensure that children were protected from him.
If the information possessed by the venerable Mr. Berkoff was not enough, Nancy Hogshead-Maker, a multiple Olympic gold medal winner and a distinguished member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, provided your “Safe Sport Director” Susan Woessner in 2011 with names of several suggested persons to interview during the pendency of your “investigation” of Ivey, specifically Ms. Moran. Ms. Hogshead-Maker confirmed for your “investigator” what you already knew; specifically, that virtually the entire sport of swimming knew that Ivey was having an inappropriate sexual relationship with Ms. Moran beginning when she was only 15 or 16 years old and verified that, generally speaking, he was a long and sordid history of abusing women, mostly minors. And yet, you decided to “close” the investigation into Ivey in May of 2013 without taking any action against him. When we heard this, we thought to ourselves: Surely they must have contacted Ms. Moran who must have denied that any sexual misconduct occurred, right? To make sure, we were able to quickly make contact with Ms. Moran through a rudimentary internet search. Not only did Ms. Moran confirm that she had sexual relations with Ivey as a minor but she also indicated that no one from USA Swimming had ever contacted her. Imagine our surprise! You likewise could have easily located and spoken to her about Ivey. As is your custom, you chose to stay away and put your “head in the sand”. Ignorance is bliss in the world of USA Swimming under your leadership.
Ms. Moran is not going to participate in any hoax that you call an “investigation”. True investigations involve an honest and complete fact gathering process. Your “investigations” are politically motived and self-serving. Besides, you have Ms. Moran’s public statement as confirmed by Ms. Woessner. Nor is our client going to get involved in the kangaroo court that is your so-called “National Board of Review”, ironically chaired by Jill Chasson who married one of her college swim coaches and who, on information and belief, had a relationship with a prior swim coach while she was in high school. The “Vice Chair” is none other than “Buddy” Pylitt, who is one of the approximate two dozen “Rambo” lawyers who have shamefully tried to quash the rights of sex abuse litigants at any expense. Talk about a complete mockery of any semblance of a fair and impartial grievance process. Sex abuse victims have a better chance of convincing the Pope to condone gay marriage. There is otherwise nothing further that Ms. Moran can provide that is not already known to you “in spades”. We refuse to allow you to take pleasure in effectively punishing Ms. Moran, as you have done to many others, for having the courage to come forward by subjecting her to such a sham of a process. There can be no question that, over the decades, USA Swimming has accumulated a library of information concerning Mr. Ivey and his propensity to molest minor swimmers. Anything stated by Ms. Moran especially at this point would be cumulative at best.
Some final notes:
Please refrain from telling the media again that USA Swimming “reached out” to Ms. Moran following the release of her story earlier this month. You and I both know USA Swimming only acts when it is forced to. You have known about Ms. Moran for literally decades and this “reaching out” did not occur until Ms. Moran made a public statement. The only reason why you “reached out” to Ms. Moran is because you were attempting, in an all too familiar fashion, to “save face” in the media in light of yet another sexual abuse firestorm. Besides, you and I also know that Ms. Moran left a phone message for both you and Susan Woessner. We suspect the two of you did not have the guts to talk to Ms. Moran without first consulting with your lawyers to get the “stories straight”.
Further, please don’t falsely state, as Ms. Woessner did on June 26, 2013, that you would “really like to work with” Ms. Moran. The truth is that you avoided her like the plague and wanted nothing to do with her in furtherance of your deplorable “protect coaches at all costs” mentality. We all know what little priority you place on dealing with sex abuse issues and no amount of media spin can alter that view.
Robert Allard, Esq.
Lawyers Against the Sex Abuse of Children (“LASAC”)