by Irvin Muchnick
On Wednesday, the staff of Congressman George Miller of California will be meeting with top USA Swimming and U.S. Olympic Committee officials on the never-ending coach sex abuse scandals. Between now and then, I’m aware of at least one scheduled national media piece to reinforce the 11 minutes devoted to the story on Friday night by KPNX, Channel 12 in Phoenix.
The legislature — author of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 — becomes the third branch of the federal government to become involved in reining in the abuses of our national swimming governing body. The first was the judiciary. USA Swimming and its mouthpieces at the Bryan Cave law firm were repeatedly sanctioned by California courts for withholding documents in discovery in the civil lawsuit by “Jane Doe” — one of many, many young-teen victims of ultra-sick predator coach Andy King, now in state prison for the rest of his life.
Last year, in another suit by victim Jancy Thompson, USA Swimming appealed discovery orders all the way to the California Supreme Court, which dismissed the arguments without a hearing. Swimming produced thousands of pages of new documents, which are under a protective order.
That piqued the welcome, if overdue, interest of the executive branch, in the form of the Campbell, California, office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which subpoenaed the records in the Thompson case. Below we are reproducing our May article about, among other things, the close eye USA Swimming vice president David Berkoff keeps on Concussion Inc. in these matters.
The courts and the prosecutors operate with necessary high levels of discretion. Congressman Miller has embarked on a journey of the greatest transparency, one that will tell the stories of real people who have been harmed by the greed and arrogance of our “amateur” sports leadership. Let’s hope he takes it all the way to public hearings.
Published May 31st, 2013
by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
Concussion Inc. reported exclusively three months ago that USA Swimming, the national sport governing body of the U.S. Olympic Committee under the auspices of the Amateur Sports Act, was being investigated by the Campbell, California, office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “FBI IS INVESTIGATING USA SWIMMING AND CALIFORNIA COACH NORM HAVERCROFT,” February 21, https://concussioninc.net/?p=6813.
At the time we also briefly posted, then took down, a facsimile of the FBI subpoena proving this. We removed the document because we were unclear if it was a matter of public record.
With coach Rick Curl headed to prison for molesting his swimmer Kelley Davies Currin in the 1980s, and with The Washington Post calling for a Congressional investigation and highlighting the University of Maryland’s role in the Curl cover-up, it would behoove major media to pick up the story of the federal executive branch’s additional interest in the crimes of USA Swimming.
USA Swimming was ordered by a California Superior Court to release thousands of pages of the organization’s files in the discovery of Jancy Thompson’s civil lawsuit against the organization for her years-long abuse by coach Norm Havercroft. USA Swimming fought disclosure for years, enduring serial monetary sanctions by California courts and, ultimately, summary rejection of its appeal to the California Supreme Court.
In support of a new and rather paranoid attempt to get the documents returned, USA Swimming submits the latest whinings by David Berkoff, the former Olympic champion who now coaches and practices law in Missoula, Montana. In 2010 Berkoff hyped himself as an anti-abuse activist before suddenly switching sides when he was named technical vice president of USA Swimming. He has already made a complete fool of himself with his underwater hot air about the smoking-gun email establishing his and other top swimming officials’ decades-old knowledge of and do-nothingness about Rick Curl’s sex abuse (see https://concussioninc.net/?p=5902).
In a declaration last week to Santa Clara County Superior Court, Berkoff claimed that we had published a document illegally in our possession — the FBI subpoena. In the declaration, viewable at http://muchnick.net/berkoffdeclaration.pdf, Berkoff explains that he came across the subpoena “[w]hen I visited the Muchnick blog somewhere between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time on February 21, 2013.”
USA Swimming calls this a “recent internet link of a confidential subpoena.” But here’s the thing: USA Swimming itself referred to the FBI subpoena in an “as is” filing with the court. So by their own actions, they failed to seek special protection, which involves its own elaborate procedure with the court. Thus, public knowledge of this record is entirely on them.
Then there’s the question of why David Berkoff has nothing better to do with his time than to take detailed notes of his visits to Concussion Inc. “between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time.” If Vice President Berkoff worked nearly as hard at ending USA Swimming’s cover-ups and protecting young athletes from sexual predators as he does at trolling and shooting messengers, we’d all be in better shape.