“Denying knowledge of Rick Curl, Mitch Ivey and others banging their swimmers! It’s a flat out lie. They knew about it because we (coaches and athletes) were all talking about it in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s.… I was told Rick Curl was molesting Kelly Davies for years starting when she was 12 by some of the Texas guys….” — David Berkoff, 2010
“I’m proud of USAS for taking on this issue and being a leader on this issue[….] Keep the faith swim fans.” — David Berkoff, 2012
Tomorrow long-time national-class coach Rick Curl faces USA Swimming’s board of review — nearly three decades after he began molesting his swimmer Kelley Davies at age 13; nearly a quarter of a century after he began installment payments totaling $150,000 to keep her parents from talking about it.
If no one reports exactly what happened at the hearing, did it ever happen? That is the epistemological question raised by the curious, and curiously applied, procedures of USA Swimming, whose protection priorities are roughly as follows:
No. 1, the organization and its well-heeled executives
No. 2, the adult coach
No. 3, the child athlete
In July, when The Washington Post published an interview with Curl’s victim, now named Kelley Currin, and appended the hush-money agreement listing in detail the criminal acts being swept under the rug, USA Swimming announced an “emergency hearing.” USA Swimming’s own investigator had been in contact with Currin and aware of the allegations for two years. And as our blog’s publication of the unredacted text of David Berkoff’s 2010 email confirmed, people in the swimming world have been talking since the George H.W. Bush Administration about what Curl did to Currin.
In August, The Post reported, Curl accepted a “provisional suspension” and his hearing was postponed. Hey, if a victim has to wait 30 years for justice, what’s another month? After all, you can’t go spoiling the Olympics and the subsequent Aquatic Sports Convention in North Carolina over a piece of vague innuendo from long ago.
Meanwhile, Noah Rucker, a coach at Curl’s mega-swim club in and around Washington, D.C. — also under “emergency hearing” jurisdiction following his criminal indictment on charges of sexual misconduct against a young swimmer in his charge years ago — was “suspended,” according to USA Swimming. Not “provisionally” suspended, not “permanently” suspended, just “suspended,” according to The Post, which didn’t bother to ask about distinctions or check on whether Rucker is now on USA Swimming’s ballyhooed but woefully incomplete published list of banned coaches. (He is not.)
Robert Allard, Kelley Currin’s attorney, advised her not to testify at the Curl hearing; understandably, he doesn’t want to bestow any legitimacy on USA Swimming’s exercise in endless ass-covering, or expose his client to further needless humiliation.
Allard did, however, ask USA Swimming to teleconference him into the proceedings as an observer. As of this morning, the organization’s mouthpieces at the Bryan Cave law firm hadn’t even responded to Allard.
So that’s where things stand in the whimpering denouement of the Rick Curl outrage: a tree falling in an unpopulated forest, perhaps accompanied by a freshly wordsmithed press release, which the stenographers at The Washington Post can decide whether is worth sharing with the world.
Berkoff, the chest-pounding, self-promoting reformer of a vice president at USA Swimming, couldn’t even get last weekend’s convention to pass a new rule forbidding coaches from screwing their athletes.
This came days after Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s poor new excuse of an “athlete protection officer,” hyped modest improvements in boundary education and reporting.
Scott Reid of the Orange County Register has a good, thorough story on yesterday’s lawsuit by swimming philanthropist Dia Rianda against Hall of Fame coach Mark Schubert over getting fired for not toeing the company line on sex abuse cover-up. See http://www.ocregister.com/sports/schubert-371793-swimming-coach.html.