by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
Let’s cut a swath through the foliage that is USA Swimming’s typically hairsplitting explanation of its decades of inaction regarding a sexually abusive coach in its ranks — in this case, Mitch Ivey, who was 64 years old before the organization got around to banning him last month. And oh so conveniently, just as a Congressional investigation was heating up.
These wretchedly negligent guardians of youth athlete safety are fooling nobody.
Before breaking down the following, we want to say that we doubt that many people wading through this will care nearly as much about the procedural apologia of USA Swimming as they do about — for example — our account over the holiday weekend of another legendary rapist coach, Paul Bergen’s, years-long molestations of future Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff Schmidt.
Regarding Ivey, the pooh-bahs in Colorado Springs say, first, that they dispute the statement of former world-class swimmer, now Women’s Sports Foundation leader Nancy Hogshead-Makar that USA Swimming director of safe sport Susan Woesnner had told her that USAS had closed its investigation of him.
Hogshead-Makar concludes that there must have been a new complaint against Ivey filed in September, nearly four months after Woessner indeed said an Ivey investigation had been declared kaput for lack of evidence.
Hogshead-Makar has an email clearly to this effect, in which Woessner “told me it was closed because I was the only person who claimed that Mitch Ivey violated the [Code of Conduct]. Was anything done after 2011? Of course it was closed.”
Woessner also told blogger Tony Austin that the Ivey case was closed in 2011 because Noel Moran, one of his many victims, had killed herself and there were no other “witnesses.” See http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=37388994&postID=6552616693714294881.
Hogshead-Makar also asks the eternal question of swimming’s alphabet-soup governance: “What about ASCA [American Swimming Coaches Association]? Will they follow USA Swimming? Will [Ivey] also be out of the coaches association?”
The other points of contention are whether USA Swimming ever spoke to Suzette Moran (yes, there were two Ivey victims, unrelated, with the same last name) and what was said between them.
Lucinda McRoberts, an attorney for USA Swimming and U.S. Olympic Committee law firm Bryan Cave, on Monday emailed victims’ advocate Bob Allard that Woessner spoke to Suzette “on June 12, 2013, at which time Ms. Moran confirmed that she had engaged in a sexual relationship with Mitch Ivey while he was a USA Swimming coach and she was his athlete.”
Last week McRoberts asked Allard how he could reconcile his demand for Ivey’s ban “with your client’s wishes that Mr. Ivey not be banned? [Your client told others that she didn’t want to see Mr. Ivey banned. In fact, we received sworn testimony to that effect during the hearing.]” (The brackets in the previous sentences are McRoberts’.)
Suzette confirms a single contact by USA Swimming but says the organization misrepresents its upshot: “I never said I did not want him banned. I said I was going to think this through and get back to her. After a few minutes I knew I needed [to retain Allard].”
Talk about attempting to revictimize the victim. USA Swimming told Moran she needed to file a complaint. Then, when it suited their Congress-swerving agenda, the “safe sport” custodians proceeded with a complaint without the victim’s participation. And to top it all off, they twisted her position on the matter, on the basis of “sworn testimony,” which turns out to be hearsay.
We hope Congressman George Miller and his House Committee on Education and the Workforce staff are paying close attention to this desperate dissembling as they await the report from the Government Accountability Office. We are confident they are.