Will USA Swimming Offer Truth and Reconciliation for Coach Sex Abuse Victims?

Published June 22nd, 2012, Uncategorized

Tonight the jury in Pennsylvania found Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, guilty of 45 of 48 counts of molesting boys.

Next week I will travel to Omaha for a follow-up on the little-noticed parallel story of the dozens of USA Swimming club coaches who have molested, most likely, hundreds of girls. The piece, commissioned by Yahoo Sports affiliate ThePostGame.com, is pegged to the Olympic Swimming Trials.

Tonight Penn State issued a statement, which said in part:

While we cannot change what happened, we can and do accept the responsibility to take action on the societal issue of child sexual abuse — both in our community and beyond. The University is committed to ensuring that our campuses are safe for children and to being a constructive participant in building greater awareness of child sexual abuse and the practical steps that can be undertaken to prevent, report and respond to such abuse.

The University has already established a confidential counseling process for victims of Mr. Sandusky’s conduct, and that process remains open. (For further information, please visit http://live.psu.edu/story/58590.) While counseling is critical, some victims have sought and continue to seek a direct dialogue with the University to discuss the University’s responsibility for Mr. Sandusky’s actions.

[T]he University plans to invite victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the University arising out of Mr. Sandusky’s conduct.

The purpose of the program is simple – the University wants to provide a forum where the University can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the University. Counsel to the University plan to reach out to counsel to the victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse in the near future with additional details.

Moving forward with correcting the horrible damage wrought by our inattentive national youth swimming program, a key question is whether USA Swimming is going to remain in defensive litigation mode, or whether it will continue to use sharp tactics to defend piecemeal litigation against it — and its Olympic image — in secret. The first round of those answers may be found in Omaha.

 

Irv Muchnick