by Irvin Muchnick
Somewhat obliquely and incompletely, a swimming news site has suggested a portion of the credit to Concussion Inc. for the resignation of Jill Chasson, chair of USA Swimming’s National Board of Review, which hears administrative charges of sexual misconduct by coaches.
And it is certainly true that we have reported that Jill Chasson is the wife of Mike Chasson, owner of Sun Devil Aquatics and former head swimming coach at Arizona State University, and that the Chassons married after Mike, as an assistant coach at Stanford, coached Jill. We also reported that a young Jill Johnson Chasson — 15 years young — had had a relationship with John Cadigan, the No. 2 guy at the Murray Stephens-Bob Bowman-Michael Phelps North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
But as Chasson departs, let’s say this on her behalf: A lot of people think she tried hard to do her impossible job as the USA Swimming fox guarding the underage victim chicken coop. It’s just that, as with so many women enmeshed in the swim-sex problem, any possible good intentions were overwhelmed by the fatal conflicts of her own history.
The same cannot be said for Chasson’s replacement, Bernard Buddy Pylitt. He is bad news, through and through.
Pylitt has been the lawyer for USA Swimming and its affiliate, or local swim committee(LSC), Indiana Swimming. In that capacity, he played point in the organization’s defense against a lawsuit by swimmer Brooke Talfinger against one of the worst of the bulging dossier of pervert coaches — a guy named Brian Hindson who is now in federal prison on a child pornography conviction.
As a side note on the hillbilly hell of the swim world, Brooke Talfinger was a close friend of Indiana University teammate Susan Woessner, who has gone on to become the face of USA Swimming’s PR-driven “safe sport” initiative. (And Susan Woessner’s sister, Geri Woessner, was soon thereafter named a manager of the Business Development department in Colorado Springs, where the shots are really called. The announcement did not even bother to note the sibling relationship.)
Getting back to the Talfinger lawsuit — and as chronicled in my short ebook last year, PENN STATE IN THE POOL: The Cover-Up of the USA Swimming Youth Coach Sex Abuse Scandal — USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus was deposed in the Talfinger-Hindson suit on May 12, 2010, a month after the infamous investigative report by ABC’s 20/20 in which Wielgus defiantly said he and his organization had nothing to apologize for.
Hindson was found to have surreptiously videotaped Talfinger and other female swimmers while they disrobed in the locker room. In making the point that USA Swimming could not have been expected to police such things, Wielgus said under oath that in his experience, this practice not only had never been the subject of a National Board of Review inquiry but also was “not even on the radar screen.”
Wielgus became USA Swimming’s chief in 1997. Late that year and into 1998, a coach in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, John Trites, was caught doing exactly what Hindson would do: secretly capturing video of girls as young as 14 as they undressed. Facing charges of wiretapping and evidence-tampering, Trites hopped a train, leaving his car behind, and hasn’t been heard from since.
In 2005 the Federal Bureau of Investigation alerted USA Swimming that Trites might be active again in the sport. A spokesperson for USA Swimming told a Lancaster newspaper that the alert was forwarded to all member coaches to be on the lookout for a man fitting Trites description. The manhunt made the television show Americas Most Wanted.
This, evidently, fits the Wielgus definition of “not even on the radar screen.”
I’ll shoot Buddy Pylitt a message asking whether he counseled Wielgus on that particular piece of perjury.
Currently, Pylitt is USA and Indiana Swimming’s attorney of record in a “Jane Doe” abuse claim involving Chris Wheat, a coach for Lawrence North High School and the Lawrence Swim Team. You can view the 88-page complaint, in Marion County court, at http://muchnick.net/wheatsuit.pdf.