* Part 1, David Berkoff: http://concussioninc.net/?p=8474
* Part 2, Pablo Morales: http://concussioninc.net/?p=8479
* Part 3, Dick Shoulberg: http://concussioninc.net/?p=8489
by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
Later this month child-protection expert Victor Vieth will submit a review of the Safe Sport program, which USA Swimming’s CEO, Chuck Wielgus, says will be presented to the board of directors and released to the world.
Whether good, bad, or indifferent, that report should be a springboard to the federal government’s larger investigations and to Congressional consideration of reforms of the Amateur Sports Act.
The seeds of this crisis were sown by decades of sexual abuse cases and, literally, scores of cover-ups. But few in the public are aware of a key marker, on July 27, 2012. That was the day the California Supreme Court rejected the appeal by USA Swimming of lower California court discovery orders in civil lawsuits. The Supreme Court didn’t even issue a supporting opinion; the justices simply and summarily denied USA Swimming’s appeal petition.
The national sport governing body’s brief in support of the failed appeal is viewable at http://muchnick.net/swimmingcalsupremecourt.pdf.
Bear in mind that this was the climax of a process, across two different cases, in which USA Swimming paid a total of around $25,000 in sanctions for serially defying court orders to produce documents. Managing liabilities for sexual abuse of kids was written off as a cost of doing business. So were fines for thumbing the organization’s nose at efforts in the court system to get at the larger truth.
The issues presented in the appeal brief are on pages 1-2. USA Swimming wanted “to redact the identities of the other nonparty victims, any nonparty ‘whistleblowers,’ and the alleged nonparty wrongdoers.” The California Supreme Court would say no, they could not.
USA Swimming argued that plaintiffs were not “entitled to discover allegations” of wrongdoing unrelated to the core counts of the instant litigation. The California Supreme Court would say yes, they were.
With this last stone wall shattered, this Olympic Committee arm was forced to produce thousands of pages of documents. Most were never before released at all. Others were liberated from swaths of blackouts of content, which had rendered them incomprehensible.
Though courts kept these records under seal, they later would be surrendered, under subpoena, to the Campbell, California, office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
That is the trove of raw data on the history of this problem. Victor Vieth did not have the time or the staff to process all of it — even if, as seems doubtful, he regarded such an exercise as part of his commission in writing a review of the Safe Sport program instituted in 2010.
In 2014, 2015, and beyond, it will be the job of the United States Congress to examine this record, to expose appropriate parts of it to public hearings and other forums, and to promulgate legislative solutions.
Follow this space for new installments of our series, “Concussion Inc.’s Independent Preview of USA Swimming’s ‘Independent Review’ of Its Safe Sport Program.”