by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
Concussion Inc. this week published a heavily redacted 2005 USA Swimming report excerpt revealing that a swimmer alleged that coach Alex Pussieldi had made secret bathroom videotapes of the swimmers living at his house.
The report excerpt does not discuss another dimension of the Pussieldi story: According to knowledgeable sources, alleged victims of Pussieldi’s clandestine bathroom recordings also came upon videotapes of Pussieldi having sex with other, probably underage, boys.
The 2005 report excerpt – produced in discovery in a civil lawsuit against USA Swimming and another coach – was submitted by Dirk Taitt, a Kansas City-based private investigator who has worked for the National Football League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, as well as USA Swimming. Taitt has not responded to a voicemail message attempting to get him to help clarify some of the questions raised by our new findings.
One obvious question is whether allegations of Pussieldi’s sex with underage boys were covered elsewhere in Taitt’s report; whether Pussieldi’s old swimmer-tenants did not mention these allegations to Taitt; or whether the investigator was given such information but for some reason chose not to include it in his report to USA Swimming.
The Taitt report chronicles a December 2004 telephone interview with a then-20-year-old Mexican swimmer in Fort Lauderdale. The swimmer says that when he first arrived in this country several years earlier, he and other young male swimmer-tenants of Pussieldi were captured on video without their knowledge in a bathroom used by them but not by Pussieldi.
The core of the USA Swimming investigation was the swimmer’s charge (also made in a police report and subsequent civil complaint) that Pusssieldi punched the swimmer and choked him with a towel at a February 2004 practice of the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team. The swimmer needed hospital treatment of the injuries from the alleged attack by the coach.
The Fort Lauderdale team practiced in the complex at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Inductees of that Hall of Fame include Pussieldi’s boss at the time, Fort Lauderdale head coach Jack Nelson, who himself has faced public allegations by celebrity open water swimmer Diana Nyad that Nelson molested Nyad beginning when she was 14.
In the USA Swimming investigation of Pussieldi, Nelson is almost certainly the coach, whose name is blacked out, imploring the swimmer not to tell anyone about the assistant coach’s secret bathroom videotapes. Pussieldi is portrayed as someone getting psychiatric help for his “unusual infatuation and attraction to boys.” The coach warns the swimmer that revealing Pussieldi’s scandal would ruin the club’s reputation.
Pusssieldi’s videotaping appears to have come under scrutiny in the 2005 investigation only as contextual background of the alleged physical attack. The swimmer explains that their altercation was precipitated by his refusal to be supervised by Pussieldi at practice. In turn, this stemmed from distrust of the coach going back to the discovery several years earlier that he secretly videotaped his swimmer-tenants.
But possible evidence of Pussieldi’s sex with underage boys is an even more serious matter for both police agencies and USA Swimming oversight authorities. According to our sources, the boys on the sex tapes were not swimmers Pussieldi housed.
A dossier on several allegations involving the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team coaching staff – Nyad’s accusations against Nelson, Pussieldi’s bathroom videos, and the murky history of another former assistant, Cecil Russell, who was accused of drug trafficking and being an accessory to a murder – was leaked to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission in 2007, which forwarded the information to the Fort Lauderdale police and the Florida state’s attorney. It is not known if allegations of Pussieldi’s sex with boys, or recordings of such acts, were part of that dossier. The criminal investigation seven years ago did not culminate in prosecution of any of the named targets; in the case of the Nyad-Nelson matter, a key factor may have been the expiration of the statute of limitations on the alleged crime.
Complete links to Concussion Inc.’s Pussieldi coverage, which began February 7, are at http://concussioninc.net/?p=8652.