by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
In the previous post we reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating USA Swimming and California coach Norm Havercroft.
Below is the full text (minus the facsimile document) of Chapter 3 of Muchnick’s April 2012 ebook PENN STATE IN THE POOL: The Cover-Up of the USA Swimming Youth Coach Sex Abuse Scandal. The ebook is available on Amazon Kindle at http://amzn.to/If3OFQ. Readers without a Kindle-compatible device can order a plain PDF copy by sending $1.49, via PayPal to email@example.com.
IN AUGUST 2010, FOUR MONTHS AFTER the 20/20 story aired, former swimmer Jancy Thompson sued Norm Havercroft, United States Swimming, Inc. (USSI), Pacific Swimming, and the West Valley Swim Club in Saratoga. Thompson asked for damages stemming from assault and battery; negligence; negligent hiring; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The 88-page complaint can be viewed at http://www.usswimnscandal.com/civil_complaints/Jancy_Thompson_1st_Amended_Complaint.pdf.
USSI is the corporate umbrella of USA Swimming. Pacific Swimming is one of the national organization’s 59 local swimming committees. Havercroft was Thompson’s coach at West Valley, where he is alleged to have abused her from 1998 to 2002, beginning when she was 15.
Such charges were nothing new for Havercroft. West Valley Swim Club existed in the first place because he founded it upon bolting from the Courtside Swim Club in Los Gatos after complaints of sexual predation were lodged in 1996-97. Parents Terry Sweeney and Linda Select said Havercroft forbade parent chaperones on out-of-town trips, had swimmers stay overnight at his house, and had numerous reported instances of massaging or inappropriate touching of his athletes. Seven USA Swimming member coaches and three Pacific Swimming executives were aware of the subsequent investigation, across several years, which was conducted by the San Jose police.
Under USA Swimming’s rules, the criminal investigation of Havercroft should have been accompanied by an administrative probe by the organization’s National Board of Review. Yet USA Swimming, while acknowledging that it had a file on Havercroft, told the complaining parents that it could do nothing.
IN 2001, FOLLOWING A SANTA CLARA COUNTY GRAND JURY’S failure to indict Havercroft, one of his former Los Gatos swimmers sued him and the Saratoga club on claims that he molested her as a minor from 1993 through ’96.
The case was outlined in this memorandum to the board of directors of the United States Sports Insurance Company:
[facsimile document not included with this post]
The author of the above memo, Eric Peterson, is vice president of Phoenix-based Risk Management Services. John Peterson, Eric’s father, is the president of RMS, which handles USA Swimming’s insurance needs through its captive insurance carrier United States Sports Insurance Company (USSIC). In a deposition, John Peterson described USSIC as a “wholly owned subsidiary” of USA Swimming.
RMS is tasked with adjusting and resolving claims. The claim against Havercroft ended with a sealed settlement in 2002. According to a deposition in another case by a former San Jose police officer who had worked on the parallel criminal file, beginning in 1997, as a member of the Sexual Assault Unit’s child molest detail, the settlement was for $400,000.