by Irvin Muchnick
As the online petition against Chuck Wielgus, the $908,432-a-year USA Swimming chief, closes is on its first 1,000 co-signers, let’s resume picking apart the defense packet he and his hatchetpeople submitted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Let’s also not lose sight of the reality that there are many, many others in the bloated hierarchy of this criminal organization who will need to be held accountable after Wielgus himself leaves in disgrace. Now would be a good time for some of them to start talking publicly about what they know went down across a generation of coach sexual abuse and cover-up. Before too much longer, federal subpoenas will be loosening their tongues.
Within days, a lengthy feature article from a major publication, largely based on the reporting at this site by Tim Joyce and myself, will bring to a larger audience the decade-plus reign of terror in South Florida of coach Alex Pussieldi, now a television sports commentator in his native Brazil. With respect to USA Swimming, there are two keys to the Pussieldi story: (1) it all happened on Wielgus’s watch and (2) the last paroxysm of Pussieldi’s sexual misconduct and USA Swimming’s inaction regarding it occurred subsequent to the installation of the image-driven “Safe Sport” program in 2010.
Despite the latest desperate $200,000 PR campaign by USA Swimming (launched last summer in an effort to blunt federal investigations), the evidence of lies and lawlessness at this national sport governing body is overwhelming and redundant. It has been all over these pages for more than two years. But for immediate purposes, let’s go back to this passage in last week’s brief to the Hall of Fame on behalf of Wielgus:
“Everett Uchiyama: In January 2006, USA Swimming received a complaint from a former swimmer, who stated that she had an inappropriate relationship with Everett Uchiyama that started while she was a minor and lasted approximately 10 years. He was her coach during that time. Chuck immediately confronted Uchiyama, who did not deny the allegation. USA Swimming accepted his immediate resignation.
Contrary to the statement in the petition, at that same time Uchiyama was also banned for life from participation in USA Swimming by Stipulated Order of the USA Swimming National Board of Review. All of this was reported to the victim and she expressed both her appreciation and satisfaction. She also asked that the matter be handled discreetly and without any publicity. As is customary with employment terminations in most businesses, only those who needed to know were told the reason for Uchiyama’s termination. However, when the banned list was published in 2010, Uchiyama’s name was on it. Unbeknownst to Chuck at the time, another USA Swimming employee who was not part of the Uchiyama termination decision and knew nothing about the circumstances, Pat Hogan, made a personal recommendation on Uchiyama’s behalf to a former colleague who was working at a local country club. At the time Chuck was asked by the media and in a deposition about Uchiyama, and he did not know about the recommendation.”
Now here’s the pertinent excerpt from the Wielgus deposition of May 12, 2010:
Q Where is he working now?
A I’m not exactly sure where he’s working, but I have heard that he works at a country club in Colorado Springs.
Q Doing what?
A I’m not sure of the nature of his work or what he’s doing there.
Q Is he coaching swimming?
A I am not aware of that.
Q Did you help him get that job?
A I did not.
Q Does his wife work for USA Swimming?
A His wife does work for USA Swimming.
Q In what capacity?
A I’m sorry?
Q In what capacity?
A She is an administrative assistant.
Q Has anybody requested a reference of USA Swimming, to the best of your knowledge, about Everett Uchiyama?
A To the best of my knowledge, no.
Q So if you knew that he was presently coaching swimming in Colorado Springs — and I know you don’t know that — would you report him to the police, or would you inform his employer, if he was coaching kids?
A I indicated to the young lady who called me that she should be reporting that to the police. And, no, I — I did not think it was our role at USA Swimming to be following someone around and tracking where they’re working and — someone we’ve banned. That’s just not something we do.
Q But right now nobody knows he’s banned because there’s no public list, correct?
A Well, I wouldn’t say nobody. I’m sure there — I’m sure there — there’s a grapevine out there that I’m sure people are aware of. But his name will certainly appear on the banned list when it’s published.
Finally, here are the facts:
– Almost immediately after his secret resignation from USA Swimming, Everett Uchiyama applied for a vaguely defined position at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs. He did so with the support of a glowing recommendation from USA Swimming’s director of club development, Pat Hogan, who called Uchiyama a “great people person.”
– Soon Uchiyama was not a mere “desk attendant” at the country club but its aquatics director. And with the assistance of John Leonard, head of the American Swimming Coaches Association, he had a swim school franchise at the country club’s aquatics center.
– Between Uchiyama’s hire by the country club and his departure following the round of bad publicity in the spring of 2010, USA Swimming held multiple quarterly board meetings at the country club’s Cheyenne Mountain Resort, where the aquatics center was located. The business center conference room where the meetings were held literally looked out onto the pool. Dozens of board members, staff, and agenda item presenters and guests attended these meetings.
“Uchiyama Scandal, Part 1: In 2006, National Team Director Resigned in Return for USA Swimming’s Promise Not to ‘Move Forward With Any Further Investigation,’” October 7, http://concussioninc.net/?p=8223
“Uchiyama Scandal, Part 2: In 2007, USA Swimming Executive Pat Hogan Recommended Dismissed National Team Director to Country Club of Colorado,” October 8,http://concussioninc.net/?p=8228
“Uchiyama Scandal, Part 3: In 2007-10, Dozens Attended USA Swimming Board Meetings at Country Club of Colorado — Where Secretly Dismissed National Coach Was Now Aquatics Director, October 9,” http://concussioninc.net/?p=8232
“Uchiyama Scandal, Part 4: Key Witness in USA Swimming Cover-Up at Country Club of Colorado Answers Some Questions – Leaves Others Danglin,” http://concussioninc.net/?p=8251
Complete headline links to our coverage of the Chuck Wielgus protest story are at the bottom of the post “Chuck Wielgus Belongs in the Hall of Justice, Not the Hall of Fame,” http://concussioninc.net/?p=9174.