JOYCE: Uchiyama Sex Abuse Cover-Up Will Be USA Swimming’s Most Explosive Scandal Yet

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by Tim Joyce


“USA Swimming agrees that in consideration of the promises and commitments made by Uchiyama it will not move forward with any further investigation into the allegations set forth …”

— from the January 27, 2006,  agreement between USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus and national coach Everett Uchiyama that resulted in Uchiyama’s permanent banning

When untangling any highly intricate, labyrinthine puzzle such as the USA Swimming sex abuse scandal, it is absolutely crucial to return to the themes that continually re-emerge in order to reset, so to speak, the discussion and refocus on the larger matter at hand.

And it is also instructive to inform readers of the statements and actions that are often lost in the bigger picture — and the quote above is an example of such.

The Everett Uchiyama saga is perhaps the most crucial of all the myriad – and vile – stories of abuse by USA Swimming coaches that have been so well documented on Concussion Inc. Why? Because, as readers will know soon enough, it connects all the dots. And the picture of the abuse in the House of Swimming is becoming less impressionistic by the hour, as the full portrait of the scandal is slowly but steadily being rendered in the light of day for all to see.

Let’s take a moment and consider what the above statement really means: the chief executive of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, decides to keep quiet the firing of their national team coach, Everett Uchiyama and, more significantly, declares in the same instance that their hands are washed of this and no further inquiry into the possibility of other sexual abuse is necessary.

Wielgus could have taken an alternate route that I think most rational and concerned citizens would have opted for, especially those in position of authority like Wielgus: fire Uchiyama; ban him from ever coaching again; contact the authorities in the affected jurisdictions that they have taken this action; and perhaps – just maybe – contact former swimmers at Uchiyama’s club to make sure there are no other victims.

But Wielgus didn’t even do the bare minimum – he did less than nothing. Because, as we all know, Uchiyama was soon ensconced as aquatics director at a country club only miles from USA Swimming headquarters.

And as readers on this site will know soon enough, there is evidence that USA Swimming not only didn’t follow through but they actively lied about all they knew in relation to Uchiyama – just as they did with Andy King, Rick Curl, Norm Havercroft, Murray Stephens, William Colebank, et al.

I’ll paraphrase the words of a reader who emailed me recently to discuss the USA Swimming scandal: Why? Why would a national organization whose primary charge is to protect the hundreds  of thousands of young swimmers who are under the guidance of USA Swimming coaches, seek to protect a coach who is accused of sexual abuse?

Were Wielgus and Co. not aware that truth in these kinds of scandals does eventually come out? Were they so concerned that their massive salaries were at risk if they were to suddenly embrace the notion of transparency, something one would expect from a Congressionally-chartered, supposedly non-profit organization?

Mind you, this is four years before the bombshell 20/20 piece that gave the swim abuse story a national foothold, and it shows that at this prior time, the M.O. of USA Swimming that we have become so familiar with was in place then — imitate the Catholic Church and hide away their coaches in the dark of night.

I’ll close with a few more words from Wielgus, given in an interview in 2010, after it became public that Uchiyama was working at the aforementioned country club:

“…  and we have not been irresponsible, I think that stinks, I really do.  In a way, I hate to say this, but there may be some fated reason why USA Swimming was put in this position, because we have the commitment and wherewithal not to shy away from an issue, to embrace an opportunity to make things better.”

Stay tuned.

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