USA Swimming Opens ‘Formal Investigation’ of Rapist Judge Who Became Coach; Suggests No Censure of Colorado Club for Failing to Report Him

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(This post is being emailed to USA Swimming officials, who historically have not responded to requests for comment.)

USA Swimming says it has opened a “formal investigation” of the debarred Washington State judge who pleaded guilty to a charge emerging from the claim of a woman that he had sexually assaulted her after hearing her case, and who moved on to a career as a coach and top state swimming official in South Dakota.

The story of Charles Baechler was told here on November 14 in “Background Checks? Washington State Judge, Convicted of Assaulting Woman Who Had Appeared in His Court, Went on to Become USA Swimming Coach and Official in South Dakota,”

Our new information includes a procedurally and factually incorrect statement by Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s safe sport director, suggesting that a youth swimming program in the national organization’s backyard — the Woodmoor Waves of Monument, Colorado — should not and will not be investigated for failing to report Baechler’s sex-crime background after the club provisionally hired him in 2011.

At the same time USA Swimming is hit with these new allegations in its home region, Woessner is dealing with the story broken here last month of an incident at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC) last February.

In yet another fraught development, both NBAC and its Meadowbrook Aquatic Club facility are bracing for the upcoming autopsy report on Louis Lowenthal, 14, who drowned there in October either during or immediately following an NBAC practice session. Meadowbrook is owned by NBAC founder Murray Stephens, who collects rental fees from Bowman and Phelps despite having abruptly resigned from NBAC in 2011 amidst an investigation of allegations that he had sexually molested an underage girl swimmer years earlier. will update the NBAC story later today or tomorrow.


Following our November 14 report on ex-judge, now-coach Baechler, USA Swimming’s Woessner received two separate complaints. One complaint, on December 4, concerns Baechler’s USA Swimming standing despite his sex assault plea and a purported system of background checks. The other complaint is against Woodmoor and Brian Donahue, a team official and past board member, for failing to report the Baechler information between his brief hire and subsequent dismissal there in 2011.

Woessner’s emails to both complainants are reproduced at

On January 4, a month after the first complaint was filed, Woessner wrote back to say that “a formal investigation” of the Baechler matter was opened on December 12.

On January 7, a week after the second complaint was filed, Woessner wrote not to confirm the opening of an investigation of Woodmoor and Donahue’s actions, but to “provide some perspective that may help alleviate your concerns.” She went on to state:

“In mid-2011, Mr. Baechler had successfully passed a criminal background check. It is my understanding that, prior to his involvement with USA Swimming, Mr. Baechler pled guilty or no contest to fourth degree assault, stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct. The conviction was later expunged from Mr. Baechler’s record, making it irretrievable by a criminal background check, so it did not show up on Mr. Baechler’s background check when he applied for the position at the Woodmoor Waves.”

In the face of prima facie evidence to the contrary, Woessner summarily added that her “present understanding” was that Woodmoor “was not involved in Mr. Baechler’s commission and/or concealment of a crime …”

The facts, however, show that Woodmoor did not follow through with its announced hire of Baechler precisely because it learned of his guilty plea “stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct.” So at that point, the club was compelled by the USA Swimming code to report that information — and failed to do so.

Documentation of this latest outrage at USA Swimming, an organization that has harbored uncounted and perhaps uncountable numbers of child sex abusers for decades, is ongoing. More from here shortly.
Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick