by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
[O]ur advocacy for victims is perhaps best reflected in the 39 names that have been added to our suspended for life list in the past three years. — USA Swimming chief executive Chuck Wielgus in his State of the Sport speech at Saturdays convention
As Congressman George Miller continues with his inquiries into the worst child sexual abuse scandal this side of the Catholic Church, he will find numerous problems with the Wielgus assertion above: the size and timing of the banned list, the fact that swimming keeps two or more sets of books on the molesters within its ranks, and the opaque or nonexistent justice meted out to some of the sports best-known figures.
But nothing reveals the corruption and indifference to child welfare of this organization better than the outrageous case of Everett Uchiyama. He was USA Swimmings national team director … until the day seven years ago when he wasnt. For those of you just climbing aboard, lets review that story.
On January 26, 2006, a former swimmer emailed USA Swimming with details of abuse she suffered under Uchiyama when he was head coach of a club in Southern California. They had had a sexual relationship starting in 1990, when she was 16.
Three days later, Uchiyama resigned. The severance agreement between Uchiyama and swimming is viewable at http://muchnick.net/uchiyama.pdf.
There was no announcement of Uchiyamas departure. (The same thing happened when Will Colebank, the club development director, was abruptly terminated for sexual misconduct — in his case, soliciting a minor on an office computer. Well also be reviewing the Colebank story; he would become a high school teacher in the same Colorado community, before his wife and son helped the police bust him for child pornography and solicitation of minors.)
It gets worse. Later in 2006, Uchiyama applied for a position with the Country Club of Colorado. The paperwork that surfaced in discovery in the civil lawsuit of a swimming sex abuse victim indicates that Uchiyama was seeking a job as a desk clerk. But before long he was the country clubs aquatics director. During the application process, the prospective new employer interviewed Pat Hogan, USA Swimmings club development director. Hogan gave the country club his highest endorsement. Great people person, the interviewers notes from her conversation with Hogan read.
In a side note, Everett Uchiyamas wife, Helen Uchiyama, is still a field services assistant on Pat Hogans staff at USA Swimming.
Yes, Congressman Miller, there are 39 new names on the banned list since Chuck Wielgus — his back to the wall after his disastrous interview on 20/20 in 2010 — decided to take credit for starting a PR initiative called the safe sport program. But Wielgus is insulting the intelligence of the congressman and the public if he thinks those 39 names will divert the coming day of reckoning for the money-first child-abuse cover-up artists of USA Swimming.