by Irvin Muchnick
Since last we reported on the the Alphonse-and-Gaston act that is the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s investigation — or re-investigation — of USA Swimming teenager Sarah Ehekircher’s grooming and abuse by her coach Scott MacFarland in the 1980s, there has been movement of sorts. Indeed, there may be a ruling on the matter as soon as this week.
Or not. With this bunch, one never knows.
On October 4, SafeSport’s director of intake and program services, Kathleen Smith, emailed Ehekircher: “I am just checking back to let you know that we are ready to move toward completion of the MacFarland matter. So, as soon as possible, we would like to have any new information not previously considered that you may have identified from your review of the additional materials. If possible, we’d like to have this information in the next two weeks.”
As Concussion Inc. has noted previously, the “director of intake and program services” title was recently bestowed; previously, Smith had simply been the investigator assigned to Ehekircher’s case. And Smith isn’t the only SafeSport official who has been revising her resume in the face of critical coverage by us, Deadspin, and others. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Michael Henry, the erstwhile SafeSport “director of legal affairs,” transmogrified into “director of investigations and outcomes.”
Back in May, intake maven Smith and outcome swami Henry joined forces to ambush Ehekircher at a Denver law office in what was supposed to be an initial investigative meeting. It turned into a cross-examination of Ehekircher’s entire life, and it was audio-recorded even though she didn’t have a lawyer present.
Along the way, Ehekircher has had two meetings with Tim Hinchey, CEO of USA Swimming, the second of them accompanied by attorney Jonathan Little, one of the country’s leading litigators on behalf of abuse victims. Ehekircher, Little, Hinchey, and USA Swimming SafeSport coordinator Liz Hahn are scheduled to huddle again in Denver on October 24.
Hinchey is feeling some heat these days after making the preposterous statement last month, at a Senate committee hearing, that he didn’t know who Paul Bergen was. Bergen is one of the most famous coaches in the history of swimming, and his abuse of 1972 Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff — the allegation first hit national television in 2010 — is more or less ground zero of the public relations black eyes that forced USA Swimming to launch a “safe sport” program and complaint system. For complete links to everything Concussion Inc. has published about the slimey Bergen, see https://concussioninc.net/?p=8404.
One good output of Hinchey’s latest embarrassing performance in the nation’s capital is that Sean Hutchison, the long-time groomer-abuser of former individual medley world record holder Ariana Kukors, has finally been banned for life. [Editor’s note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Kukors’ world record was in butterfly rather than individual medley.] See https://swimswam.com/sean-hutchison-permanently-banned-by-u-s-center-for-safesport/. I first wrote about Hutchison in my long 2012 article, commissioned but then censored by Yahoo Sports, which you can read at https://concussioninc.net/?p=10681.
Ehekircher argues persuasively that there is no significant difference between what Hutchison did to Kukors and what MacFarland did to her. Ehekircher told SafeSport’s Smith that the cases were identical except that “Scott and I weren’t out in the world as boyfriend/girlfriend.”
Or maybe the real significant difference is that Kukors became an Olympic athlete seen on national television, and Ehekircher did not. The failure to protect all of America’s child athletes from predatory coaches — as opposed to clucking about certain celebrity cases — remains the key hole in the game for Congressional and major media investigations of this problem.
Running down the full Sarah Ehekircher story:
On March 6, I reported Ehekircher’s basic account. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12656.
On March 7, Ehekircher told of her sexual harassment by American Swimming Coaches Association executive director John Leonard before and during her ASCA employment. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12666
On March 7, in an article at the now-defunct site SwimVortex.com, Leonard denied the allegations and SwimVortex smeared both Ehekircher and myself. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12669
On March 7, we told of how Leonard, a former U.S. Army stateside reservist, bragged to Ehekircher of having been a sniper in Vietnam with more than 100 kills. (Since then, others have related to us similar anecdotes of Leonard’s stolen valor.) https://concussioninc.net/?p=12680
On March 8, we published Ehekircher’s 2010 email exchange with the late USA Swimming chief Chuck Wielgus. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12692
On March 16, we reported that the U.S. Center for SafeSport had accepted Ehekircher’s complaint for investigation. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12727
On March 18, we reported on the biased 2010 testimony of Scott MacFarland’s best friend, the late coach Bob Gillett. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12737
On March 25, we first reported the Houston Chronicle’s fleeting and immediately pulled coverage, and MacFarland’s confused status at Houston’s Magnolia Aquatic Club. (MacFarland eventually would “retire from coaching,” but the Chronicle never again weighed in.) https://concussioninc.net/?p=12775; https://concussioninc.net/?p=12778; https://concussioninc.net/?p=12782
On April 22, further developments included Ehekircher’s contacts with Congresswoman Diana DeGette. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12838
On May 2, we reported Ehekircher’s first meeting with USA Swimming CEO Hinchey. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12883
On May 20, Ehekircher published a guest column at this site. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12919
On May 29, we reported the SafeSport Center’s conning of Ehekircher at a meeting at Denver’s Zonies law firm. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12960
On June 4, we published the SafeSport emails exposing the sleazy tactics used against Ehekircher. https://concussioninc.net/?p=12984
On July 6, we reported Ehekircher’s second meeting with Hinchey. https://concussioninc.net/?p=13050
On August 5, “U.S. Center for SafeSport’s PR Person Is a Con Man, Too — Fabricates Conversation ‘On Speaker Phone’ With Concussion Inc.,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=13122
On August 8, “U.S. Center for SafeSport’s Con Man PR Contractor Told Me His Employees ‘Would Never Lie For Me.’ So Far, He’s Right About That.” https://concussioninc.net/?p=13135