Update (Not) on USA Swimming’s Alex Pussiedi Investigation

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by Irvin Muchnick

 

While we await the federal government response to our request for George Gibney’s immigration records, let’s not forget the purported newest USA Swimming investigation of Alex Pussieldi – now in at least its 15th month.

In February 2013, Nancy Fisher – an ex-Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who is one of swimming’s “independent investigators” – was instructed to open a fresh inquiry into allegations that Pussieldi, more than ten years ago, videotaped swimmers in his residential bathroom and also climbed into bed with one of them.

USA Swimming safe sport director Susan Woessner told a third-party complainant: “I understand your frustration and I can only offer frustration myself when I review the file and wonder why more was not done then.  I can tell you that we are committed to trying to right that wrong now.”

Swimming will not say what the current status of that investigation is. The current status of Pussieldi is that he is the face of swimming coverage on the SporTV network in his native Brazil, which is preparing to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Broward County, Florida, records indicate that Pussieldi has been keeping up with the property tax payments on his house in Fort Lauderdale in the two years since he dissolved his Davie Nadadores swim club. Florida Gold Coast Swimming, the regional USA Swimming affiliate, was in the process of indefinitely suspending him and heavily fining him for violations involving foreign swimmers’ affiliations. And Nova Southeastern University, whose campus housed the Pussieldi program and many of its athletes, ended the relationship.

(SwimSwam.com, a sport news site, summarized all of the above by telling its readers – in passing in a story about one of Pussieldi’s ex-swimmers – that the Davie Nadadores “sort of came apart.” Earlier, SwimSwam had published the announcement of the retirement from coaching of “the great Alex Pussieldi.”)

Questions also hang over Pussieldi investigations on the federal front. Last year a government source told Concussion Inc. that the FBI’s North Miami office documented tips raising questions about Pussieldi’s unusual living arrangements with his swimmers. This was before the climactic 2004 pool deck physical battery incident that led to the coach’s departure from the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team of the late International Swimming Hall of Famer Jack Nelson (who himself was accused of having molested Diana Nyad when she swam under him at Pine Crest School).

Another unresolved thread: why the Pussieldi activities never emerged or were pursued in the 2008 prosecution of another South Florida coach, Roberto Caragol (now in federal prison in Miami after pleading guilty to possessing and distributing child pornography).

Caragol was not charged with a “hands on” crime. But during his plea bargaining he did admit to sexually abusing a number of both girls and boys with whom he came into contact through coaching. What makes this pertinent is that Pussieldi’s history includes time as a fellow assistant swim coach with Caragol at Pine Crest, where they were in dual charge of swim meet housing services for visiting athletes.

The Caragol prosecution was a joint effort of the FBI and local U.S. attorney, and the Broward County sheriff. Detective Jennifer Montgomery of the sheriff’s office last year told us that the investigation never expanded to exploring whether there were perpetrators other than Caragol.

Complete headline links to Concussion Inc.’s Alex Pussieldi coverage are at https://concussioninc.net/?p=8652.

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