USA Swimming’s Excuses on Rapist Coaching Legend Paul Bergen: (1) ‘Not a Law Enforcement Authority’; (2) ‘No Control Over Hall of Fame’

‘After Sexual Abuse Conviction, New Scrutiny on Youth Athletics’ — New York Times
June 18, 2013
International Swimming Hall of Fame CEO to Muchnick: ‘Will Respond Before the Week Ends’
June 19, 2013

We have reported that Deena Deardurff Schmidt, the gold medal swimmer who was molested in her youth by her Hall of Fame coach Paul Bergen, is asking USA Swimming what gives with Bergen, who continues to be associated with the Paul Bergen Junior International SCM Championship in Tualatin Hills Swim Club in Oregon.

See “What Rapist International Swimming Hall of Fame Coach Paul Bergen Is Up to These Days,” June 6, https://concussioninc.net/?p=7658, and “SEX ABUSE VICTIM DEENA DEARDURFF SCHMIDT CALLS OUT USA SWIMMING CEO CHUCK WIELGUS FOR YEARS OF INACTION ON HALL OF FAME COACH PAUL BERGEN,” June 14, https://concussioninc.net/?p=7708.

We now reproduce in full below the texts of the June 14 email to USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus from Deardurff Schmidt’s attorney B. Robert Allard, and of yesterday’s reply by Richard S. Young of the Bryan Cave law firm, USA Swimming’s counsel.

In a nutshell, Young says Bergen is not a member of USA Swimming, which “is a membership organization, not a law enforcement authority.” So there. This is perhaps a step up from John Leonard, who last year averred to me that his American Swimming Coaches Association is “not an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form.”

USA Swimming’s Young also says “USA Swimming has no control over the International Swimming Hall of Fame or who it inducts into the Hall or who it may choose to expel.”

 

Irv Muchnick

 

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From: B. Robert Allard
Sent: Friday, June 14, 2013 10:15 AM
To: Chuck Wielgus
Subject: Request for Status of Investigation Concerning USA Swimming Member Coach Paul Bergen in Response to Report of Abuse by Deena Deardurff-Schmidt

OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH USA SWIMMING CONCERNING STATUS OF INVESTIGATION AGAINST MEMBER COACH PAUL BERGEN

Dear Mr. Wielgus:

I have the privilege and honor of representing Deena Deardurff-Schmidt, a resident of San Diego, CA and a former Olympic champion. See generally http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deena_Deardurff.

Paul Bergen is an International Swimming Hall of Fame coach (inducted 1988) who has coached for in the World Championships both the United States (1975, 1978, and 1982) and Canada (1986). He was also on the United States Olympic staff on multiple occasions (1980, 1984, 1988 and 2000). He has been awarded the American Swim Coaches Association (“ASCA”) “Coach of the Year” twice (1977 and 1978). See generally http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Bergen).

Well over five (5) years ago in January of 2008, it was reported for the first time that Ms. Schmidt has been sexually molested by her then swim coach Paul Bergen for a four (4) year period during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when she was aged 11-15.

Well over three (3) years ago, in March of 2010, Ms. Schmidt and I conducted a press conference wherein she once again publicly announced that she had been repeatedly molested as a child.

Surely you remember being interviewed by ESPN journalist T.J. Quinn over three (3) years ago in May of 2010 (see http://ejvcommunications.com/otl.html) during which the following dialogue occurred:

_____

TJ Quinn –
“When she (Deena Deardurff Schmidt) tried to pass along the name of the coach that molested her to the organization (USA Swimming) years ago, she was told that she couldn’t file a complaint because she wasn’t an active member.”

TJ Quinn (to Wielgus) –
“After her press conference, you didn’t reach out?”

Wielgus (with a smirk on your face) –
“No, I did not.”

TJ Quinn –
“Why not call her and say what is this? Who is the coach? What can we do?

Wielgus –
“Well…I wish she would file a complaint, but…”

TJ Quinn –
“She had a press conference. That’s a pretty public complaint if you want to call it that. Why do you have to wait for a piece of paper to initiate an investigation? ”

Wielgus (smirking again) –
“Well, I would like for her to name a name. Ideally, she should name a name and go to the police. If she will name a name to us, we’ll go to the police, but.”

TJ Quinn –
“But you haven’t called her and asked her?”

Wielgus (still smirking) –
“I have not called her and asked her.”

TJ Quinn –
“Should you have?”

Wielgus (smirking) –
“In retrospect, I guess the answer to that question would be yes. But if I were to call somebody every time I heard a rumor…”

TJ Quinn –
“That’s not a rumor. That’s an Olympic champion giving a press conference saying she was not only abused…”

Wielgus –
“A rumor about a name.”

TJ –
“Yes, but I’m saying that does not seem like a sign to somebody that the organization has become more proactive. What does it say to you?”

Wielgus (smirking) –
“Sounds like I should call her up and talk to her.”

_____

Soon after the ESPN interview, Ms. Deardurff was summoned by USA Swimming’s lawyers for a deposition, presumably to obtain more information concerning her abuse so that appropriate remedial action could be taken against Mr. Bergen (see attached May 27, 2010 deposition which occurred in San Diego, CA). Normally, as you know, USA Swimming has private investigators conduct these interviews. In this case, however, for reasons known only to you, a deposition was chosen as the investigating vehicle. In response to questions presented by USA Swimming’s attorney Bob Rucci, Ms. Schmidt described the abuse that she was forced to endure for a number of years and specifically identifies Paul Bergen as the abuser. Ms. Schmidt also describes her efforts to have Mr. Bergen banned from the sport, including conversations with former USA Swimming Executive Director Ray Essick in the late 1980’s, an attorney for USA Swimming in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, and prominent swimming coaches which included former ASCA “Coaches of the Year” Richard Quick (1986, 1992, 1998 and 1999), Eddie Reece (1991, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2009) and Dennis Pursley (1980). She also indicates that, when she learned that Mr. Bergen was on the verge of being recognized for an award in 2005, she personally notified ASCA Executive Director John Leonard and told him of the abuse and that Mr. Bergen should not be coaching children.

Your current Vice President David Berkoff was deposed in January of 2012 (see attached). At this time, Mr. Berkoff produced a list of known or suspected pedophiles (see attached “Berkoff List”) which included Mr. Bergen and his molestations of Ms. Schmidt (see coach #100 on the “List”).

Over the past three (3) years in particular, we have watched with interest as to whether any action has been taken by USA Swimming to ensure that Mr. Bergen did not have access to minor swimmers. We note that he has been coaching minor swimmers in Tualatin Hills, Oregon, where he has hosted the yearly “Paul Bergen Junior International SCM Championship”, most recently held from December 7-9, 2012 (see http://www.thunderboltswimming.org/SubTabGeneric.jsp?team=osthsc&_stabid_=50577).

Mr. Wielgus, recall that you testified in deposition on at least one occasion that the only information that you as an Executive Director would need in order to proceed with the investigation of a suspected molester swim coach would be 1) the name of the coach, 2) the name of a victim, and 3) a general description of the abuse. You have now been equipped with this information “in spades” for a number of years, principally Ms. Schmidt’s sworn deposition testimony which took place over three (3) years ago. There is otherwise no requirement that a victim file a “formal claim”, whatever that might be depending on who you talk to, as recently demonstrated in USA Swimming’s investigation of Sean Hutchinson while he coached at the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (“FAST”) in Fullerton, CA.

The specific questions we have for you are as follows::
What if anything has USA Swimming done to:
o Investigate Mr. Bergen,
o remove Mr. Bergen’s name from the swim meet for underage kids,
o remove Mr. Bergen from USA Swimming,
remove Mr. Bergen from the deck of the Tualatin Hills Swim Club, and/or
remove Mr. Bergen from the International Hall of Fame?

You of course have represented to Ms. Schmidt in writing that there is no statute of limitations that would attach to her claim against Mr. Bergen (see attached), so timing certainly is not an issue.

The country eagerly awaits your answers to these questions. The safety and welfare of countless children inside and outside the USA Swimming depends on it.

Thank you for your time and consideration to this critical issue.

Sincerely,

Robert Allard, Esq.

 

*****

 

Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:19 PM
To: B. Robert Allard
Cc: Chuck Wielgus
Subject: Your Email to Chuck Wielgus of June 14, 2013

Dear Mr. Allard:

I am responding to your letter to Mr. Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director, because, as I have had to remind you numerous times in the past, your insistence on communicating directly with USA Swimming staff while you are simultaneously suing USA Swimming violates California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 2–100.

USA Swimming is a membership organization, not a law enforcement authority. USA Swimming’s ultimate authority is to expel from membership individuals who have violated its rules. Mr. Bergen is not currently a USA Swimming member, and has not been since 2005. Ms. Schmidt has stated, and your letter confirms, that the alleged abuse took place from 1968 to 1972. This was well before USA Swimming came into existence. USA Swimming has no authority to initiate a National Board of Review proceeding against an individual who is not currently a member (and is therefore not a risk to USA Swimming member swimmers) and where the alleged bad acts occurred before USA Swimming came into existence. However, based on Ms. Schmidt’s information, if Mr. Bergen were to seek USA Swimming membership at some future date, Ms. Schmidt’s allegations would be investigated and addressed in a hearing before that membership would ever be allowed, assuming, of course, that she would be willing to participate.

You know better than to claim that Ms. Schmidt’s deposition was for the purpose of investigating Mr. Bergen. Ms. Schmidt was deposed because she was a potential witness for you in a pending lawsuit brought by you against USA Swimming on behalf of another person .

USA Swimming rules make clear that individuals who are not member coaches are not allowed to be on deck coaching—whether at Tualatin Hills or at any facility under the control of a USA Swimming member club. If you or Ms. Schmidt have evidence that Mr. Bergen is on deck coaching in violation of that rule, USA Swimming will certainly look into it.

Finally, USA Swimming has no control over the International Swimming Hall of Fame or who it inducts into the Hall or who it may choose to expel.

Sincerely,

Richard R. Young
Office Managing Partner
Bryan Cave HRO

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