by Irvin Muchnick
Sarah Ehekircher, whose accusation of grooming and abuse by her youth coach Scott MacFarland has led to a “justice delayed” outcome of forcing MacFarland out of his job at the Magnolia Aquatic Club in Texas — but still not a definitive action on the allegations against him — yesterday had her highly anticipated meeting with Tim Hinchey, the CEO of USA Swimming.
At headquarters in Colorado Springs, Hinchey was accompanied by USA Swimming’s Safe Sport “coordinator,” Liz Hahn, the sort-of successor to disgraced and departed director Susan Woessner. Ehekircher was accompanied by a fellow Colorado coach, Mike Bromberg, who has been supportive of her, almost uniquely so in a local swimming community that appears to prefer not to deal with what she has to say. Also with Ehekircher was a stand-up coach in Texas, Dirk Marshall, about whom I hope to be saying more to Concussion Inc. readers.
Because of my personal time constraints today, I’m doing this fast and general report on the meeting. Ehekircher was also scheduled to discuss the meeting in the last part of her three-part podcast series with coach-blogger Chris DeSantis, who has done tremendous work on the Ehekircher-MacFarland case and on abuse in swimming generally. I’ll be posting the audio links.
In addition, the swimming news site SwimSwam has been reporting the Ehekircher story and the fact that the new U.S. Center for SafeSport is undertaking a do-over review of what she contends — justifiably, I believe — was an altogether flawed investigation by the 2010 Woessner USA Swimming Safe Sport regime and an egregiously biased National Board of Review hearing.
The status of the NBOR hearing transcript seems to be the headline coming out of the Ehekircher-Hinchey meeting — that is, a headline that there is no progress in the Alphonse and Gaston act that USA Swimming Safe Sport and the U.S. SafeSport Center are playing over how to proceed.
The center investigator had told Ehekircher that it couldn’t give her the 2010 transcript because of a “confidentiality agreement,” which as far as I can tell simply doesn’t exist. The center’s deference to the swimming national governing body here, on the side of non-transparency, is not a good look for its purported bold clean-up efforts and independence.
As for swimming, Ehekircher pressed Hinchey for the transcript yesterday and he balked, as well — citing an ongoing SafeSport Center investigation.
In other respects, Ehekircher described the meeting to me as rushed, since almost the first words out of Hinchey’s mouth were that he would have to cut things off in one hour. Ehekircher was forced to perform triage on the discussion points she had written down, and she didn’t get to a number of them. She said she did succeed in retelling the basic story of MacFarland’s abuse of her, starting when she was 17 back in the 1980s. Both Hinchey and Hahn took this in and appeared to be surprised, or at least shocked by the horror of the narrative.
We’ll have more as this develops.