With the national conventions this week of the American Swimming Coaches Association, and next week of USA Swimming, I am tracking related stories leading up to prominent coach Rick Curl’s announced hearing later this month. Curl is said to be on “provisional suspension” following the July report – which included publication of a $150,000 hush-money agreement between perpetrator and victim’s family – of his long- and widely known statutory rapes of his swimmer Kelley Davies nearly 30 years ago.
Over the weekend I reported that representatives of Curl’s employer in Australia, the Carlile Swim School, would be the main act at the ASCA World Clinic at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. (Note: The previous sentence originally referred to the Carlile Swim School and Rick Curl as “business partners.” I have changed that language based on information sent to this blog by Tim Ford, the CEO of Carlile. See https://concussioninc.net/?p=5968.)
In the next post I’ll begin exploring why major news organizations seem to think they’re doing their job when they deploy nods and winks, at best, to alert the public of a sports sex abuse scandal magnitudes larger than Jerry Sandusky and Penn State.
But right now it’s all about Kenneth Fuller. He was the swimming coach of Bayard Rustin High School in Chester County, Pennsylvania, who was arrested in May for several times taking a minor student-athlete under his tutelage to a hotel, plying her with alcohol, and having sex with her. Fuller apparently forged the girl’s notes excusing her from classes during these criminal acts. Fuller was also on the coaching staff of USA Swimming’s Malvern, Pennsylvania, affiliate. The background is at https://concussioninc.net/?p=5657.
At the time of the Fuller arrest, USA Swimming issued the following statement: “We’ve initiated an emergency Board of Review hearing in this case. An emergency board of review convenes quickly, most usually in cases of criminal charges, and allows USA Swimming to take swift action on the membership status of the individual in question. An Emergency NBOR can suspend membership until a full Board of Review hearing can take place.”
A new update of USA Swimming’s list of banned coaches, published last Thursday, now includes Fuller (the state listed, “MA,” is a typo; I’m sure they meant “PA”).
But after rushing out a statement in May about an emergency hearing, USA Swimming didn’t announce the resolution of the Fuller case.
In an email today, Thomas P. Hogan, the district attorney of Chester County, confirmed that the quick addition of Fuller to the banned list was not prompted a more recent criminal conviction or guilty plea. “Must have been the [USA Swimming] board of review,” Hogan told me. The newest development in Pennsylvania court was a hearing on revoking Fuller’s $250,000 bail in the wake of evidence that he violated its terms by contacting the girl with whom he was alleged to have had sex, giving her a pre-paid cell phone, and trying to get her to recant her story to police. See http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20120831/NEWS02/120839908/prosecution-former-rustin-swim-coach-asked-alleged-sex-victim-to-recant.
The reason all of this matters in the bigger picture is that Fuller is yet another example of USA Swimming’s opaque, ham-handed, clear-as-mud public communications on the sex abuse issue.
Weeks after the Fuller arrest in Pennsylvania, and just before the Curl-Kelley Davies story broke in The Washington Post, Noah Rucker – a coach on the staff of Curl’s mega-sized swim club around Washington, D.C. – was arraigned in Virginia on charges that he, too, had carried on an illegal sexual relationship of a young swimmer he was coaching at a high school. USA Swimming dutifully announced an “emergency hearing” for Rucker, but never released the results of the hearing and, as yet, has not listed him on the banned list. The Post reported, with obliging murkiness, that Rucker, too, is “suspended,” even as his former boss, Curl, sweats out his own “provisional suspension.”
If Curl, a confirmed serial rapist, gets quietly banned for life following a purported September 19 hearing (which, it is reasonable to speculate, was scheduled conveniently clear of next week’s Aquatics Sports Convention in Greensboro, to be dominated by celebrations of the Olympic team’s successes in London), I wonder if the newspaper of Woodward and Bernstein will simply print the press release. Or will The Post, instead, actually do some work to connect some of the dots of the worst-kept secret in swimming? More on that in the next post.