The only reason the ongoing youth swim coach sex abuse outrage is partly about the leadership role of David Berkoff is that Berkoff himself so promoted it. That’s what readers have to bear in mind when they view today’s column by Bill Speltz in the Missoulian, “Missoula swimming coach Berkoff says criticism is unfair,” http://missoulian.com/news/local/missoula-swimming-coach-berkoff-says-criticism-is-unfair/article_02329f42-caf9-11e2-8e54-0019bb2963f4.html.
Berkoff says he is himself a survivor of child abuse, and for that he deserves sympathy. (I may be wrong, but I believe this is the first time he has stated as much so openly and publicly; it is strongly hinted in one of his depositions in a civil suit against USA Swimming.)
But Berkoff’s defense of his good faith as the reformist technical vice president of USA Swimming doesn’t hold water.
He tells his hometown paper that blaming him for long-known rapist coach Rick Curl’s presence on the deck at the 2012 Olympic Trials — which prompted victim Kelley Davies Currin to come forward — is like “blaming the governor for a bad striping job on the highway.”
Berkoff says he was a spectator at the Trials. “… I see Rick Curl walking down the pool deck and I turned to my wife and said, ‘What the hell is he doing here?’ I was just as shocked as Kelley Currin was about that.”
Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, Berkoff was “shocked, shocked!” And proceeded to do nothing.
The ongoing crimes of our national swimming program transcend Berkoff’s colossal vanity and institutional framing. There are calls for a Congressional investigation, and there is already an investigation by the FBI.
Some day in the future, “over beers” with fellow Hall of Fame swimmer Pablo Morales, or over cocktails at the Harvard Club, I look forward to further fantastical anecdotes from Vice President Berkoff on how the solutions ran through him.
NEXT: Complete links to Concussion Inc.’s coverage of David Berkoff.