The suicide of country singer Mindy McCready at 37, in perhaps her fourth attempt over the years, is too complex an event for glib speculation. But for those of us following the generation-long saga of sexual abuse of girls by coaches of youth swimming programs, there is a familiar theme.
McCready had a long-term affair with baseball great Roger Clemens. There are conflicting accounts of its origin and nature, with McCready herself having rather softly denied that it began when she was 15. It began when she was 16, she insisted. And it wasn’t sexual until a few years later.
Many swim coaches have sexually exploited their athletes. Some are like Rick Curl, who began the practice with Kelley Davies when she was a young teenager, and is about to be sentenced for a guilty plea to the crime of statutory rape 30 years later. However, many other abusive coaches have skirted the letter of the law by confining their attentions to “grooming,” and waiting for the girls under their authority to reach majority age before making the fatal touch. The inventory of the effect on the lives of these women is not pretty.
Speaking of Roger Clemens, he has become something of a Zelig — or maybe it’s a Forrest Gump — of this blog. As an abuser of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, he was the most important footnote of baseball’s Mitchell Report; this, in turn, stole the thunder of another 2007-08 investigation, of World Wrestling Entertainment, by Congressman Henry Waxman’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Now, via the McCready tragedy, Clemens is reminding us of the harm sexually predatory men can inflict. He gets my first-ballot vote in any election for the Horses’ Asses Hall of Fame, for the enormous educational value of his bad example.