by Irvin Muchnick
The Congressional hearings in which the U.S. Olympic Committee and its satellite national sport governing bodies are being asked what they’re doing about sexual abuse is a welcome development, to be sure. The unfortunate part is that the voices that most need to be heard won’t be at the microphones. They’ll be in the spectators’ galleries.
I have numerous friends in the community of whistleblowers who have gone to the trouble of traveling to Washington to witness this spectacle first hand. The words of one of them struck me: “I I took a redeye flight so that I could look at Tim Hinchey [CEO of USA Swimming] in the eyes. I wanted to make sure that if he and others lie to Congress, they’ll have to do it with me sitting in the room.”
Sarah Ehekircher is there. After the USA Gymnastics scandal with molester doctor Larry Nassar unraveled, Ehekircher finally started getting some traction with her story of grooming and abuse by her youth coach, Scott MacFarland, and the cover-up of his misconduct that extended into and beyond the heavily hyped 2010 start-up of swimming’s “safe sport” regime. She is there to remind everyone that ending the culture and enabling of abuse is not a job for a jerry-rigged human resources department whose main concern is to prevent “bringing disrepute to the Corporation.” Also: Famous Olympians are a tiny tiny fraction of the population of youth sports program coach abuse victims.
Chris DeSantis is there. A good-guy coach and blogger, DeSantis was one of the first to give Sarah Ehekircher a forum, and he is fighting on multiple fronts: getting the new U.S. Center for SafeSport to investigate the historical crimes of legends like Paul Bergen, and exposing the money-first, kids-last creed of figures like Mark Schubert, the disgraced former Olympic coach who has risen again, phoenix-like; and John Leonard, the sex-harassing chickenhawk executive director of the global coaches’ visa troubleshooters, the American Swimming Coaches Association.
Dia Rianda is there. She sued Mark Schubert for wrongful termination after witnessing the most horrible things under him at his Golden West club in California. Yesterday Rianda told me: “These men in leadership positions connected to all of this child sex abuse is no coincidence. It makes me sick and I can’t believe that they have done this to the sport of swimming and the children who believe in the Olympic dream. These powerful men are connected, and are connected to powerful individuals who will do their best to cover it up. They believe that they will be getting away with this again.”
So, tee it up, Tim Hinchey. And during hearing breaks, bone up on the lawsuit Ariana Kukors just filed about her grooming and abuse by Sean Hutchison. (See http://muchnick.net/kukorslawsuit.pdf.) You know, the same guy your former “safe sport director,” Susan Woessner, “engaged in kissing” with “on a single occasion” prior to helming USA Swimming’s flop investigation of him in 2010-11. And while you’re explaining that to Congress, Mr. Hinchey, maybe you can use the occasion to announce that you are authorizing the U.S. Center for SafeSport to give Sarah Ehekircher the secret transcript of the failed USA Swimming National Board of Review hearing on Scott MacFarland.