A swimming and water polo coach at Aragon High School in San Mateo, California, has been arrested for a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old athlete under his supervision. The San Jose Mercury News account of the Joshua David Tatro case is at http://www.contracostatimes.com/peninsula/ci_20764280?source=inthenews.
Tatro does not appear to have a direct connection to USA Swimming. But USA Swimming is the widely recognized national governing body (NGB) of the sport. Its privileges, sponsorships, and U.S. Olympic Committee subsidies are all byproducts of an act of Congress: the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act of 1979. Now it’s the job of our elected leaders to remove USA Swimming’s legalistic fig leafs so that the definition of the NGB’s responsibilities includes becoming a true de facto clearinghouse of public information on sex abuse at all levels of aquatic sports.
After ABC’s 20/20 investigation in 2010, USA Swimming’s website began publishing names of its own banned coaches. But there are also unpublished secret “flagged” lists of swimming coaches with credible allegations that were never adjudicated within the organization itself: from high schools, YMCA’s, summer recreation leagues, and in other countries. In many of these cases, there were even on-the-record charges before local media stories faded into obscurity. We need more sunshine on such files to prevent pedophiles from roaming program to program, and state to state.
USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus and his team deserve all the criticism they have been getting from this quarter for covering up a lot of ugliness for a long time. They still haven’t cleaned up their act. Many monstrous acts were committed by their own coaches, then fudged, papered over, quietly settled – the bland prelude to business as usual.
But we have to admit that regime change alone won’t reduce to the ideal minimum the problem of sex abuse in all of our over-professionalized, yet under-professional, youth sports programs. Congress also must give the bodies at the apex of the sports pyramid waivers to report information outside the four walls of their own incorporation. Without such measures, sick people will continue to play shell games with our children’s safety.
PENN STATE IN THE POOL: The Cover-Up of the USA Swimming Youth Coach Sex Abuse Scandal is available on Amazon Kindle at http://amzn.to/JoS53m, or as a plain PDF file by sending $1.49 via PayPal to [email protected].