Search for Fort Lauderdale City Documents Widens Net of Accountability for Abusive USA Swimming Coach Alex Pussieldi

Published March 4th, 2014, Uncategorized

by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce

 

Fort Lauderdale city officials tell us they are looking high and low for 2004 and 2007 documents relating to accused monster swim coach Alex Pussieldi. The implications aren’t pretty.

Assistant city attorney Cole J. Copertino reiterated to us this morning that the city clerk and the City Commission office say “no records have been identified that are responsive” to our request for documents cited in a 2007 cover story in the New Times weekly of Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Copertino said the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex is still looking for files relating to the 2004 pool deck and locker room attack on a Mexican swimmer by Pussieldi in 2004. That incident was reported to and investigated by the police, as well as by USA Swimming; it prompted Pussieldi’s resignation from the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team of Hall of Fame coach Jack Nelson, who is also the accused rapist of open water swimming legend Diana Nyad.

The salient point in all this is that none of the local complaints generated in 2004 and 2007 ended Alex Pussieldi’s reign of terror in South Florida swimming — a chronology Concussion Inc. now has documented to go all the way up to an eyewitness allegation of abusive behavior by Pussieldi at a swim meet in Plantation, a Fort Lauderdale suburb, in November 2012.

We have asked city official Copertino for comment on these three possibilities for why no 2007 records have yet been located:

(a) The very detailed description in the New Times cover story was fabricated. We consider that highly unlikely. Here, in part, is what New Times’ Ashley Harrell wrote:

 

… [A] packet of materials that included a sworn statement by [Diana] Nyad, police reports, and news stories was mysteriously delivered to Fort Lauderdale city commissioners in January. The documents purport to show that Nelson and two other coaches that he hired and retained are guilty of sexual misconduct and other misdeeds.”

The packet given to city commissioners paints an alarming picture of Nelson and some of the coaches he supervised.

In 2004, a swimmer in Nelson´s program told Fort Lauderdale police that one of the coaches had child pornography on his computer and that the coach secretly videotaped male swimmers who lived with him as the swimmers undressed in a bathroom. The swimmer claimed he found a video camera hidden in an air conditioning vent. Another swimmer told police the same coach touched him inappropriately. According to the packet, Dillon told Nelson about the boys´ accusations, but Nelson did not go to police. Instead, Dillon´s wife did. Fort Lauderdale police conducted an investigation, but it dead-ended when the coach denied the accusations. Nelson kept the coach on staff.

The same documents describe another of Nelson´s coaches, Cecil Russell, who admitted under oath in 1996 that he helped incinerate the dismembered remains of a murder victim….

 

New Times editor-in-chief Chuck Strouse told us, “The papers were absolutely not fabricated. Ashley Harrell’s piece was thoroughly researched and completely accurate.”

(b) Someone with the City Commission did not retain copies of the documents before forwarding them to the police. That would be less than diligent.

(c) The papers were tossed. That would be, in our view, criminally negligent with respect to public safety. The records made reference to, among others, a sexual abuser and child pornographer still loose in the community and still working identical jobs as a coach in youth swimming.

Complete links to Concussion Inc.’s Pussieldi investigation are at http://concussioninc.net/?p=8652.