Swimming Hall of Fame Chief: ‘Substantial or Compelling Evidence’ of Inductee’s Sex Abuse Would Force It to ‘Consider All Options’

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Last week I asked Bruce Wigo, the president and CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, about allegations of sexual abuse against some Hall inductees. Here is Wigo’s partial emailed response:

“We are aware of, and are greatly concerned by the horrible and repugnant allegations of unethical and/or criminal behavior by aquatic coaches, especially those who have been inducted into the ISHOF. However, for the reasons stated above, we remain reliant upon and confident in the legal system as well as various organizations, including the media, which have funded mechanisms as well as the means and resources to conduct investigations, gather evidence and make determinations in a way that ensures constitutionally guaranteed due process protection for all parties involved.  If and when we are presented with substantial or compelling evidence, a determination, a criminal charge, conviction, judgment or admission of guilt, our Board of Directors will consider all options within our means and resources that will enable us to educate and protect athletes from abusive coaches, and to ensure the integrity of our Hall of Fame.”

The operative phrase seems to be “substantial or compelling evidence.” All the other bases upon which ISHOF might determine that someone within its ranks didn’t, after all, deserve to be honored would be triggered by criminal or other external processes.

I followed up by asking Wigo, “Specifically with respect to Hall of Famer Paul Bergen, he has been accused publicly by Deena Deardurff Schmidt of having sexually molested her. Please advise whether the existing public record in this scenario rises to the standard of substantial or compelling evidence. If your answer is no, please explain why not.”

I’ll publish Wigo’s answer when I receive it.


Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick