by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
The staff of Congressman George Miller, Democrat of California and ranking minority member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is investigating sexual abuse at USA Swimming. Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown is widely expected to allow to enter into the books the recently passed state legislation, SB 131, which would reopen a category of civil lawsuits previously closed by the statute of limitations.
These two forces merge in the case of Everett Uchiyama, the USA Swimming national team director who resigned, without appropriate public acknowledgment, on January 27, 2006. That was all of three days after a Southern California woman contacted the organization with allegations that he had molested her when he was her youth club coach.
In this series, our goal is to chronicle the Uchiyama resignation, including USA Swimming’s criminally corrupt handling of its aftermath, so slowly and redundantly that only the most fanatical deniers of this sport’s culture of abuse and cover-up could fail to acknowledge it. We have on our hands a substantial national scandal: maybe a hundred times broader and deeper than Penn State, in return for maybe one-hundredth the bang for the major media buck.
Let’s start with Everett Uchiyama’s severance agreement. We’ve referenced the document before.
Under the agreement by which he was disappeared from USA Swimming headquarters in Colorado Springs, Uchiyama gave up his opportunity to contest the charges against him, and accepted a lifetime ban by the organization. For its part, this Olympic national governing body agreed not to “move forward with any further investigation into the allegations.”
What both parties got out of all this was no publicity. This turned the public into the only big losers. Wherever Uchiyama worked in the future, in whatever job he worked, his employer, his co-workers, and others with whom he would come into daily contact would never be aware that he had been separated from USA Swimming because of uncontested charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.
As it turned out, one of Uchiyama’s next jobs, if not the very next, in 2007, wasn’t just any old job. He applied for and got a position as a desk attendant at the Country Club of Colorado, also in Colorado Springs, six miles south of the USA Swimming office, where his wife Helen continued to work in a non-executive capacity. Soon thereafter, the country club promoted Uchiyama to aquatics director — in which capacity he also controlled a lucrative swim school franchise bestowed by the American Swimming Coaches Association.
It gets worse. In his job application process, Uchiyama received a glowing recommendation from Pat Hogan, USA Swimming’s club development manager. And throughout Uchiyama’s term at the Country Club of Colorado, USA Swimming regularly used it as the site of board of directors meetings.
Next: USA Swimming’s Hogan told Country Club of Colorado interviewer that Uchiyama was a “great people person.”