by Irvin Muchnick
The Boston Globe on Sunday published the highest-profile and most comprehensive account of the disappearance of Joe Bernal, the iconic New England swimming coach who earlier this year was banned for sexual misconduct by USA Swimming. See https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2016/09/18/joseph-bernal-nowhere-found-after-being-banned-usa-swimming/sLexDxeAkYJAW8Fc1oSn6O/story.html.
Bernal was on U.S. Olympic team staffs and coached at Harvard. As a mentor of Hall of Fame backstroker David Berkoff, a controversial figure over the years in periodic and unsuccessful campaigns to curb sexual abuse in swimming, Bernal is yet another big “get” in an ever-unfolding narrative.
As we can observe whenever a new legendary figure gets busted — Mitch Ivey, Paul Bergen, Jack Nelson, Dick Shoulberg — it is doubtful that the public is ready to do more than play “gotcha” and “isolated case” with Bernal. This despite the swelling of the USA Swimming banned list (now at 136) and overwhelming evidence that the abuses are systematic and have been covered up.
Bernal’s daughter Michelle Sweeney, herself a career coach, told Concussion Inc. that she is upset that the Globe made no effort to reach her for its story — all while referencing her and soliciting comments from Bernal’s former neighbors and others. Sweeney said this had the effect of making it appear that she might be in cahoots with her father, and she is not. Sweeney said that the article is accurate and that she supports the ban on Bernal, though she has no special information on the background or circumstances of it.
Published March 24th, 2016
Published May 2nd, 2016
Published May 3rd, 2016
Published May 4th, 2016