American Swimming Coaches Association Chief John Leonard — No. 1 Suspect For Facilitating Irish Rapist George Gibney’s Visa Application — Is Changing His Tune on Abusers in the Ranks

USA Swimming Is Lying About a Dick Shoulberg Investigation. And It Dragged Its Feet in Announcing Joe Bernal’s Lifetime Ban. What Do They Have in Common?
May 4, 2016
Australian Olympic Chief Asks Brazil to Bar Swim Coach/Sex Offender Scott Volkers. Why Haven’t Canadian and U.S. Officials Asked For Same on Alex Pussieldi?
May 8, 2016

Complete headline links to our series on George Gibney are at

Complete headline links to our Dick Shoulberg series are at



by Irvin Muchnick


On August 10, 2012, the long-time executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association, John Leonard, emailed me the following regarding Concussion Inc.’s coverage of the global cover-ups of sexually abusive coaches:

“ASCA is a voluntary membership organization.

We have no investigatory powers, funds, or responsibility.

USA-Swimming is required membership for anyone who coaches a USA-Swimming team.

They have ‘control power’ over who can coach in their organization.

We do not have an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form, according to our formative documents from 1958 and thereafter.  

We follow the USA-Swimming banned list and remove from ASCA membership (permanently) anyone who is banned by USA-Swimming, once the process is completed there.

In addition, when we are sent ‘news’ that is verifiable legal proceedings against any high school or rec coaches that have had similar charges proven against them, we check our membership lists and would also remove them. To date, no “non-USA-Swimming member” who has been reported to us has been a member of ASCA, so we have not had to remove anyone, since they have not been members.”


But today Leonard’s ASCA is reacting to the USA Swimming ban of the latest coaching legend, Harvard’s Joe Bernal, with a new tack: word that the coaches’ group will indeed discuss, at their September meeting, a new policy dealing with the status of abusers. This story, at the sometimes problematic news site SwimSwam, by one of its most conscientious writers, Chris DeSantis, is at

Yes, what we finally have from John Leonard is a glimpse of cranium poking out from under a sand dune.

John Leonard — long-time chief obstructionist to reforms to protect 400,000 youth athletes from the predation of any of the 12,000 coaches who work out of America’s private and public pool decks, before school, after school, and on weekends, 365 days a year.

John Leonard — the No. 1 suspect for the role of enabling the 20-plus-year American odyssey of Ireland’s George Gibney, the most-wanted, at-large rapist in all global sports.


Perhaps the best way to wrap your head around how harmful ASCA has been to the safety of kids — in the U.S. and increasingly in foreign countries where Leonard has acquired a foothold — is by an analogy we have used before. Suppose the American Academy of Pediatrics blocked action against sex abuse by doctor-members on the grounds that “we are a voluntary membership organization and are not directly related to children in any way, shape, or form”?

Yet the case against John Leonard is worse than that. Much worse and much more specific.

As any reader can see by inputting his name into the search field of this website, Leonard and ASCA were instrumental in finding employment for now permanently banned Dustin Perry, via a coaching position in Mexico, when Perry was on suspension from USA Swimming following the first round of allegations of sexual misconduct against him. (Perry is a comparative nobody in the swim coaching ranks — though he now may be a rising behind-the-scenes star in a scenario that is too sensitive for us to report on in depth at this time.)

But Mitch Ivey is a legend. A descendant of the swimmer-coach tree of the late George Haines’ Santa Clara Swim Club, Ivey was employed writing literature for ASCA long after the swimming community was aware of his wide-ranging sexual abuse of young swimmers in his charge — so wide-ranging that he had two unrelated victims with the same last name. USA Swimming blew off these allegations for decades before finally banning Ivey in 2013.

The now geriatric Paul Bergen (molester of 1972 Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff Schmidt) and the late Jack Nelson (credibly accused serial rapist of a young teen Diana Nyad) are among the sport’s Hall of Famers who received support and succor from ASCA over the course of a generation, while their true and repellant stories hovered under the public radar, Bill Cosby-like.

And of course, there’s Rick Curl — Kelley Davies sex abuser, ASCA board president and ASCA Hall of Famer, and Australian flight from justice practitioner — whose 2012 bust might have done more than anything else to begin unraveling the international shame of swimming’s parish-to-parish shuttling of some of the very worst of the bad guys.

Still not convinced? ASCA publications advertise to members organizational resources connecting to the finest legal services, the better to cut through all that pesky red tape in securing visas for foreign coaching gigs. See our reproduction of this pitch on April 17, 2014:

Concussion Inc.’s Freedom of Information Act litigation in San Francisco federal court appears to be approaching a climax. The government’s partial production of records in George Gibney’s immigration file already show that someone in the U.S. supported his 1992 visa application with a coaching employment offer.

If that someone turns out to be John Leonard of the American Swimming Coaches Association, or one of his agents, no one should be surprised.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick