PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES
by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
With this installment, we conclude the series of articles we’ve called the “Greg Winslow Files.” We do not end our coverage of the Greg Winslow story. Anecdotes and documents about his on-the-job abuses at Utah, and their cover-up by university officials, continue to pour in. They will take time to sift and verify and tell in a way that apportions accountability where it belongs. Our take: that accountability will go straight to the top of the University of Utah and Arizona State University administrations.
Meanwhile, at some point this month or next, the prosecutor in Maricopa County will be acting on the recommendation of the ASU police that Winslow be charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the allegations of a 22-year-old woman, who says he molested her over a period of years, starting at age 15, on the Sun Devil Aquatics youth club there. The Utah story exploded in part because the accuser was recruited by Winslow when he moved on to coach the Utes, for whom she swam for a year before her life fell apart.
If readers take away one thought from the Winslow Files, it should be that there is not a chance in the world that the Arizona accuser is the only victim of sex abuse on the Utah swim team. We make this fiery statement not only because the smoke is so intense; we make it because the facts about the phenomenon of sex abuse of girls are so plain. They are plain in society at large, and they are even more stark in swimming, as a consequence of a criminal element that controls and exploits a great sport for Olympic glory and profits.
In today’s headlines, Salt Lake City is the capital of the chickens coming home to roost. Another is Tempe. Another is Baltimore. The biggest of them all is Colorado Springs.
This is not to say that Greg Winslow himself — who will be accorded the presumption of innocence in a court of law — personally victimized every abused swimmer on his team. But our information shows that in the hornet’s nest of the sport’s elite levels, many, many girls are damaged by their coaches at youth clubs before they make it to college programs … if they make it to college programs. The overwhelming majority of the nation’s 12,000 club coaches do right by their 300,000 athletes. An unconscionably high and unchecked minority, abetted by the absurd cult of the coach and the star-struck ambitions of parents, uses Svengali powers to collect harems, skip from program to program, and from region to region, and in the process walk away from the damage and remain two long-course laps ahead of the law.
Last year Kelley Davies-Currin, a victim of the famous coach Rick Curl in Washington, D.C., came forward with the story of his molestations of her, which had begun 30 years earlier. Curl is about to be sentenced for these statutory rapes. Last summer we talked about Davies-Currin and Curl with Katherine Starr, who competed in the Olympics and survived abuse under another name, and like Davies-Currin, swam at the University of Texas. Starr founded the organization Safe4Athletes.
Starr told us:
“Open amateur sports need a voice for the athletes. They also need an injection from the outside of ethics and morality.
“I know now that four women on that team during my time who were abused by their youth coaches. It was speculated about Kelley and no one took investigative action to look into it.
“That is the main problem, there is gossip without action. Safe4Athletes want to change that dynamic and give a voice to the athlete that would start that process in place and require deliberate action to investigate and determine if it is fact or fiction. We owe that to every young athlete — to pursue the truth.”