PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES
by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
In a report yesterday, we remarked on the striking “vehemence and unanimity of the antipathy” toward swim coach Greg Winslow among his athletes at the University of Utah when they learned he was being relieved of his duties. We should have said “near-unanimity.” There are two holdout supporters of Winslow: Traycie Swartz and Danielle Caldwell. Campus sources say Swartz and Caldwell are telling teammates that Winslow was unfairly railroaded out of his job, and that his accuser in Arizona in two pending charges of sex abuse of a minor is lying.
But the significance of the roles of Swartz and Caldwell in two separate investigations of Winslow’s alleged sexual misconduct — the one in Arizona and another by the University of Utah’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO) — goes beyond coach-swimmer loyalty. Depending on what is still not known about the exact timing of the interviews of these women in the Utah probe, their roles also could go a long way toward answering questions about whether the university has been engaged in a cover-up of Winslow’s widely discussed violent and abusive behavior in a number of areas.
Like the accuser in the Arizona case (in which the prosecutor is expected to decide soon on the campus police recommendation to indict on two felony counts), both Swartz and Caldwell followed Winslow to Utah from Sun Devil Aquatics, the youth club program at ASU. Swartz came out of Dobson High School in Chandler, Arizona. Caldwell is from Mountain Point High School in Glendale.
Last December 18, both women were interviewed in the criminal probe by detectives at ASU police headquarters in Tempe.
During roughly the same period, Utah’s OEO was conducting a parallel investigation of Winslow, which had been prompted by complaints to the university’s president by the father of former swimmer Austin Fiascone. One of the most explosive of Fiascone’s revelations was an anecdote about the mistreatment of the team’s only African American — and on Martin Luther King’s birthday. But as we’ve reported, Fiascone letters and emails to administrators covered a range of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, including alcohol abuse, punching an assistant, and an atmosphere of harassment and chaos.
Given the level of rumors of Winslow’s sexual misconduct, and the fact of his past extramarital affair with a diving coach, with whom the university severed ties, it is extremely unlikely that questions of sexual misconduct were not within the scope of OEO’s mandate. Utah says the OEO investigator talked to more than 50 witnesses.
In addition, the university says the OEO report — timed to coincide with a campus visit by Jesse Jackson — concluded with a recommendation that no disciplinary action be taken against Winslow. However, there has been no release of detailed findings or lists of interviewees. It stands to reason that those 50-plus persons included all the swimmers, Traycie Swartz and Danielle Caldwell among them.
Fiascone told us that the interviews were conducted over an approximately six-week period, from late November through early January. So here are the money questions:
* Were Swartz and Caldwell interviewed in Salt Lake City before or after they talked to ASU police on December 18?
* If after, could they have plausibly answered “no” to the OEO to the question of whether they were aware of allegations of sexual misconduct by Winslow?
* And if they answered “yes” to that question, and why, then could Utah officials credibly claim that the sex-abuse charges against Winslow hit them from out of the blue?
We’ll answer that last one: no. Indeed, in such an event, the rest of us could conclude that the university was engaged in a cover-up.
Last night one of us (Muchnick) reached Swartz by phone; she refused to talk with us, so we followed up with an email asking her about questions and answers in the Utah investigation, in relation to her interview with police in the Arizona matter. We left similar voice and email messages with Caldwell.
We also emailed Krista Pickens, the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and invited her to share more information with Concussion Inc. readers.
P.S. 9:30 a.m. 3/4/12: University of Utah spokesman Keith Sterling just emailed us, “We do not disclose the individual names of those interviewed during investigations, but we did talk with more than 50 people including members of the team and were thorough in our questioning. Ms. Pickens is a former sex crimes investigator with the Salt Lake City PD and is well trained in this area.”