Yesterday Salon published “U.S. Olympic Committee’s controversial abuse investigator fails upward — to the federal courts,” https://www.salon.com/2021/05/11/us-olympic-committees-controversial-abuse-investigator-fails-upward–to-the-federal-courts/.
Salon’s editors forwarded to me a message from Dan Hill, the center’s public relations consultant. The full text is below, typos preserved, followed by my response.
I represent the US Center for SafeSport; there are a number of factual issues with the column:
– the US Center for SafeSport is independent. It’s not under the auspices of the USOCP (two federal laws, including one passed last year, make this abundantly clear). suggestions otherwise are wholly incorrect, including the reference to the Center being an “internal affairs division” of the USOPC.
– the entire description of the “data breach” is incorrect. Multiple external investigations into the ransom-ware event revealed that NO data was breached. To suggest that the identities of those who reported sexual abuse, including survivors, was in any way compromised is incredibly irresponsible and could be triggering to those individuals. It was a vendor to the Center that was the target, not the Center itself, and again no data was breached.
– Micheal Henry was never the Center’s chief legal counsel and he voluntarily resigned
– Advisors to the Center, including its outside counsel, do not advise the USOPC or any of the National Governing Bodies of sport. It’s not permitted.
There’s a lot of other fairness and contextual issues but I want to start with the most glaring factual problems. I’m happy to discuss. Irv has published numerous versions of this same story on his personal website over the years, each more over-wrought with incendiary, superfluous prose. He mocks that I do pro bono work supporting survivors of sexual abuse but I would NEVER brag about that work — it’s deeply personal. At one point he even mentioned my minor daughter, a survivor, in one of his blog posts.
The Center is not above reproach; it’s more than willing to have fact-based conversations about changing sport culture, or it’s evolution over the four years. Most all of Irv’s animosity revolves around a single report. I have no doubt that his personal energy and emotion about that one matter is earnest. These are serious issues that deserve fair, accurate and trauma-informed discussion. If you’re interested in seeing a current, and serious look at the Center and its work, including its limitations, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) produced the findings from its investigation recently: https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-128r.pdf
As I said, I’m happy to discuss.
I have never mentioned Dan Hill’s minor daughter, in a blog post or anywhere. I have no knowledge of a child of his, of any gender or age or survivor status, outside of what Hill has himself said above.
Not for the first time, Hill is either lying or delusional. See “U.S. Center for SafeSport’s PR Person Is a Con Man, Too — Fabricates Conversation ‘On Speaker Phone’ With Concussion Inc.,” August 5, 2018, https://concussioninc.net/?p=13122.
In the Salon story, I point out that SafeSport paid Hill $180,000 in 2019. This followed my writing in 2018: “Since Hill has repeatedly, since his original May 29 communication with me, made the point that he works on abuse matters pro bono, I asked him to document that his company’s services for the U.S. Center for SafeSport are free or, alternatively, billed on a reduced-fee basis. In reply, he asserted, ‘Whatever SafeSport pays us doesn’t cover our costs; everyone on our team does this work because they want to make an impact.’”
Michael Henry called himself the center’s Director of Legal Affairs, both at his LinkedIn profile and in the signature of emails to complainants to the center that are in my possession.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport is as independent of the U.S. Olympic Committee as the United States Postal Service is of the federal government. SafeSport is as independent as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which is run by former USA Swimming lawyer Travis Tygart. See “Top U.S. sports anti-drug official was involved in covering up swimming sex scandals,” April 15, https://www.salon.com/2021/04/15/top-us-sports-anti-drug-official-was-involved-in-covering-up-swimming-sex-scandals/.
SafeSport and USOC’s national sport governing bodies, including USA Swimming, have used the same teams of lawyers and investigators, including former FBI agents. The boards of directors of the organizations are musical chairs drawn from the same populations. In 2016 USOC “announced the nine members who were selected” to the SafeSport board of directors. Among them was Megan Ryther, “USA Swimming World Championship Team Member.” See https://swimswam.com/usoc-announces-u-s-center-for-safe-sport-board-of-directors/.