The Many-Splendored Lies About and Cover-Ups of Sex Abuse by USA Swimming and Its CEO, Chuck Wielgus

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Yesterday my colleague Tim Joyce deconstructed the fabulistic statement by Chuck Wielgus, the chief executive of USA Swimming, in response to last Thursday’s prison sentencing of rapist coach Rick Curl. After the hearing, Curl’s victim, Kelley Davies Currin, spoke out more broadly of the cover-up of Curl’s well-known crime by Wielgus, David Berkoff, and Mark Schubert.

Today a Washington Post editorial endorses Currin’s advocacy of Congressional hearings to probe this scandal and set in motion an overhaul of the Amateur Sports Act.

Concussion Inc. has advocated such federal intervention for more than a year. Last September, Ashley Roybal-Reid, senior aide to Congressman Mike Honda, a California Democrat, told us, “Congressman Honda has begun looking into what formal action our office can take to address this problem, including, but not limited to, Congressional hearings.”

In the meantime, let’s review a partial inventory of Chuck Wielgus and USA Swimming’s many, and many-splendored, public lies — in addition to those catalogued in the Rick Curl case. Readers interested in further foundational information are encouraged to read my April 2012 short ebook, PENN STATE IN THE POOL: The Cover-Up of the USA Swimming Youth Coach Sex Abuse Scandal.

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NORM HAVERCROFT

Havercroft fled the Courtside Swim Club in Los Gatos, California, after complaints of sexual predation were lodged against him in 1996-97. Seven USA Swimming member coaches and three Pacific Swimming executives were aware of a San Jose police investigation of Havercroft. Under USA Swimming’s code, the criminal investigation should have led to a probe by the organization’s National Board of Review. But USA Swimming officials told complaining parents that they could do nothing.

According to a former San Jose police officer, swimming’s insurance claims consultant, Arizona-based Risk Management Services (which appears to have no clients outside the aquatics industry), helped negotiate a $400,000 settlement with Havercroft’s victim.

Havercroft moved on to the West Valley Swim Club, where he molested swimmer Jancy Thompson, beginning when she was 15 years old, between 1998 and 2002.

*****

ANDY KING

King, now is in his sixties, is spending the rest of his troubled life at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California. The Santa Clara County prosecutor called King “a monster” for his perpetration, across four decades of club-hopping swim coaching, of “almost every conceivable sex act,” including impregnating at least one girl swimmer as young as 14.

In 2002, Wielgus deflected an email complaint about King from a Washington State parent. In 2006, USA Swimming enacted coach background checks. Two years later, returning to a team in California, King passed his background check.

In a 2009 interrogatory in a civil lawsut, Wielgus answered “No” to the question, “Were you ever made aware of prior claims of abuse by [Andy] King?”

In 2010, Wielgus told ESPN, “We didn’t hear of Andy King until April of 2009.”

*****

EVERETT UCHIYAMA

USA Swimming national team director Uchiyama abruptly and secretly resigned in 2006 when the organization received a letter from a former swimmer alleging that Uchiyama had sexually abused her as her club coach in California.

Uchiyama almost immediately landed as the aquatics director of the Country Club of Colorado, near USA Swimming headquarters. (As recently as two months ago, his wife remained on the staff at USA Swimming; I can’t confirm that she is still there because the organization more recently removed the full staff listings from its website.)

In interviews of Uchiyama’s references by the Country Club of Colorado, USA Swimming executive Pat Hogan gave Uchiyama a glowing reference, calling him a “great people person.”

Uchiyama resigned from the country club and got listed on USA Swimming’s banned list only after he was exposed following ABC’s 20/20 report in 2010.

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PEEPING TOM VIDEO BY COACHES “NOT EVEN ON RADAR SCREEN”

In 1998, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, coach named John Trites went on the lam went he was about to be charged with multiple sex crimes — one of which was that he surreptitiously videotaped his female girl swimmers disrobing in the dressing room. Trites is still at large. When he first vanished, his case was featured on the television program America’s Most Wanted. In the same period, USA Swimming and executive director Wielgus, at the behest of the FBI, sent out a national alert to aquatic facilities.

In 2010, Wielgus was deposed in a civil suit by swimmer Brooke Talfinger involving the abuses of an Indiana coach, Brian Hindson (now serving a 30-year federal prison term in Florida). Wielgus was asked about Hindson’s Peeping Tom locker room videos of swimmers.

Wielgus denied knowledge of the issue. He said it was “not even on the radar screen” until 2008. (That was the year Michael Phelps was embarrassed by the dissemination of cell phone photos of his marijuana use at a party.)

***

In 2010, David Berkoff — then an anti-sex abuse activist, soon to become the apologist vice president of USA Swimming — wrote in an email, in part, “Denying knowledge of Rick Curl, Mitch Ivey and others banging their swimmers! It’s a flat out lie.”

Later in the same email exchange, Berkoff wrote, “Wow. Perjury is still a crime in California , correct?”

It is not known exactly what Berkoff was referencing in this last remark.

But really, Mr. and Ms. Congresspersons — take your pick.

 

 

Irv Muchnick
tips@muchnick.net

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