by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
The Pennsylvania media are reporting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now offering an unspecified cash reward for information leading to the apprehension of swimming coach John Trites, who has been on the lam for more than 17 years and is on the FBI’s most wanted list.
The deeper significance of the Trites case has been reported nowhere except Concussion Inc. One of the crimes for which Trites is wanted involved his practice of secretly videotaping disrobing female swimmers in the locker room. USA Swimming chief executive Chuck Wielgus has told repeated public lies about the organization’s knowledge of this subject — including his sworn statements to a court in 2010.
The subject of Peeping Tom coach video has arisen at least two other times since Trites fled justice in 1998 — leading the FBI to ask USA Swimming to send out a nationwide alert to aquatic facilities. The FBI also featured Trites on the television program America’s Most Wanted.
In 2004 both local police and a USA Swimming investigation covered up complaints from multiple sources that Alex Pussieldi maintained a clandestine bathroom taping system of Latin American boys he imported and housed. One of the Peeping Tom victims was a Mexican swimmer who was physically battered by Pussieldi on the practice pool deck of the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team, for which Pussieldi coached under the Hall of Famer Jack Nelson. Pussieldi quietly resigned from the Fort Lauderdale club, yet continued to coach other programs in South Florida for nine more years. With the 2016 Summer Olympics approaching in Rio de Janeiro, Pussieldi is now the swimming commentator on his native Brazil’s SporTV television network.
Like Trites and Pussieldi, Indiana coach Brian Hindson captured nude athletes in his charge — females in his case — via a hidden locker-room camera. Hindson is now in federal prison on child pornography counts.
In a 2010 deposition in a civil lawsuit against organized swimming by one of Hindson’s sexual abuse victims, Brooke Taflinger, Wielgus denied knowledge of past complaints similar to those against Hindson. Wielgus went a step further, asserting that scandalous videos of all kinds were not “even on the radar screen” prior to 2008 (the year a cell phone photograph appeared of Michael Phelps inhaling marijuana from a bong).
Those readers who think our characterization of Wielgus’s statements is just our opinion should look back at last year’s public petition by Diana Nyad and other survivors of swim coach abuse, which forced the International Swimming Hall of Fame to withdraw its scheduled induction of Wielgus. The petition stated, “Wielgus lied and perjured himself in a May 2010 deposition by claiming he had no knowledge of any USA Swimming athletes ever being videotaped.”
The FBI says it considers Trites, now 53, armed and dangerous.