If you follow the youth swimming coach sex scandals long enough, you will uncover every permutation of vagary in the actions of both USA Swimming and local criminal justice systems.
Today’s case in point is Kenneth Fuller, the former Malvern, Pennsylvania, club coach who is out on $250,000 bail on charges that he had sex in a hotel, during school hours, with a swimmer he was coaching at Bayard Rustin High School.
Fuller is already on USA Swimming’s permanently banned list, though the director of the organization’s safe sport program, Susan Woessner, has not responded to repeated inquiries on the procedural basis of that action. After Fuller’s arrest this spring, USA Swimming had announced an “emergency hearing” on his status. The organization never released the date or outcome of the Fuller hearing, but quietly added him to the August update of the banned coach list.
Contrast these steps with the two other “emergency hearings” this year that I know about: Rick Curl and Noah Rucker.
Curl – whose credentials include Olympic coach, American Swimming Coaches Association coach of the year, ASCA president, and owner of the mega Curl-Burke Swim Club in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia – was banned two weeks ago after waiving an already delayed hearing before USA Swimming’s national review board. All this was anywhere from five months to two years to 20-plus years after substantial knowledge in the swimming community of his serial statutory rapes of Kelley Davies.
Rucker is a former coach at Curl’s club who, like Fuller, is being prosecuted for an illicit relationship with a girl swimmer he supervised as a high school coach – in Rucker’s case, a decade earlier. Yet Rucker is not on the banned list and USA Swimming has no response to questions about him (unless you count staff flack Karen Linhart’s threat to have me thrown out of the Omaha arena where the Olympic Trials were held this summer, for the high crime of asking the question).
Back to Fuller. Last Friday a Chester County Common Pleas Court judge, David Bortner, rejected an effort by the district attorney to have Fuller’s bail revoked in light of evidence that he had contacted the alleged victim, in violation of his bail conditions, for the purpose of trying to get her to recant her testimony to police. See the coverage in West Chester’s Daily Local, at http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20120928/NEWS01/120929560/accused-swim-coach-keeps-bail-despite-objections&pager=full_story.
Deputy district attorney Elizabeth Pitts elaborated to me: “The Commonwealth requested a revocation of the defendant’s bail based on new information we had received from the victim wherein the defendant had on two occasions requested, during two in-person clandestine meetings, that the victim lie to the police about their relationship.” These contacts followed multiple other contacts via computer, untraceable “boost” phone, and email.
Pitts declined to comment when I asked what contacts her office had had with USA Swimming.
At least we can say that the Chester County news media seem more aggressive in following Fuller’s case than were outlets in and around Colorado Springs after the 2007 bust of a pedophile middle school teacher, Will Colebank, who had abruptly left a high position at USA Swimming headquarters, unannounced, following a report of his contact with a young boy swimmer in another state via a company computer. More soon from here on the Colebank case, which we began reporting last week.
Then there’s The Washington Post, which has given half-assed follow-up coverage of the Curl case — which its own former reporter broke — and appears to have dropped altogether its reporting on Rucker. More later on that, too.