by Irvin Muchnick
The travesty that was the May 24 meeting to discuss Sarah Ehekircher’s U.S. Center for SafeSport complaint against swimming coach Scott MacFarland, who had groomed and abused her beginning when she was 17, couldn’t possibly have been as grossly misleading as it was cracked up to be in Concussion Inc.’s May 29 account. Could it?
Actually, the plain record of the emails between Ehekircher and SafeSport senior investigator Kathleen Smith confirms in black and white the specific criticisms of our report:
(According to Ehekircher, the meeting itself, following an exchange of disagreements over why SafeSport would not release to Ehekircher the transcript of USA Swimming’s flawed 2010 National Board of Review hearing of her allegations against MacFarland, proceeded to a cross-examination by Smith of Ehekircher over matters outside the record of the 2010 complaint. Smith also audio-recorded the interview even though Ehekircher wasn’t accompanied by her own attorney.)
The pre-meeting email exchange shows that Smith said to Ehekircher on May 18: “If we are going to meet in person, we can do that at an office downtown.”
Smith did not explain why the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s own offices, at 1385 South Colorado Boulevard in Denver, would not be good enough.
On May 21, Smith finalized the logistics for the meeting on the 24th at 10 a.m. “at the following address: Wells Fargo Building, 1700 Lincoln, Suite 2400.”
Smith did not add that 1700 Lincoln, Suite 2400, is the office of Zonies Law LLC.
On May 23 — at 5:44 p.m., after business hours and less than 17 hours before the next morning’s meeting — Smith wrote, “I just wanted to let you know that another member of the Response and Resolution team, Michael Henry, will be joining our meeting tomorrow. We try to have a second person whenever possible to help with note-taking and any miscellaneous things that may need to be done.”
Smith did not add that Michael Henry “of the Response and Resolution team” is the center’s director of legal affairs. Some errand boy.
Confronted with our report last week, SafeSport’s spokesperson, Dan Hill, shucked and jived. “We do not comment on active matters,” he said. Then he proceeded to comment anyway, by innuendo: “Our approach is based on best practices, which includes caring more about professionalism, fairness and the integrity of the process, than responding to misrepresentations.”
Just who is making the misrepresentations here is very clear.
Also clear is how much the U.S. Center for SafeSport is in the business of protecting the U.S. Olympic Committee and its national sport governing bodies, and how little it is committed to serving the athletes who come forward to it seeking a fair process and the administration of justice.
The final crystal-clarity is where accountability for the center resides, in the absence of further Congressional action: nowhere.
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