Yesterday Salon published “USA Swimming’s struggle to cover up its sexual abuse crisis,” https://www.salon.com/2021/06/26/troubled-waters-usa-swimmings-struggle-to-cover-up-its-sexual-abuse-crisis/. Here are some bullets.
Jack Swarbrick, the Zelig of sports abuse management, warned swimming of this galloping problem more than 20 years ago. Then an Indianapolis lawyer for USA Swimming, Swarbrick went on to deal with crises of football player sexual assaults at Notre Dame, where he is now athletic director, and with containing scandals as counsel for the now infamous USA Gymnastics.
Former American Swimming Coaches Association executive director John Leonard was long the biggest roadblock to reforming the sport’s abusive culture. To Swarbrick, Leonard said, “Show me where this is an issue that is large.” To me years later, Leonard said ASCA was “not an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape, or form.”
Over the years, USA Swimming defied lower court discovery orders in civil lawsuits and paid tens of thousands of dollars in sanctions to keep the truth under wraps.
Swimming is a raging profit of a nonprofit, enriching more than a dozen executives at average salaries exceeding $300,000.
A profitable offshore subsidiary, “the United States Sports Insurance Company,” was headquartered in Barbados — site of an annual legally required show board of directors meeting, attendance at which was a bacchanalian perk. Much of the legal dirty work is done by the prestigious Bryan Cave and King Spalding law firms.
A “wasting” provision in swimming’s insurance structure rendered useless abuse victims’ lawsuits against local coaches and clubs, and shielded the national organization and its riches from equitable exposure.
Congressman George Miller’s 2013-14 investigation of swimming, blunted by USA Swimming’s six-figure lobbying campaign, was blown off by FBI director James Comey. A centerpiece of USA Swimming’s strategy was a funded whitewash “independent review” of its Safe Sport program — dutifully executed, for an unknown fee, by Wisconsin’s Gundersen Health System.