by Irvin Muchnick
I hope all of you, including the federal government investigators of sexual abuse and cover-up at USA Swimming, are having a happy holiday.
With the curious timing of the lifetime ban last week of legacy swimming pedophile coach Mitch Ivey (combined with USA Swimming’s easily refuted insistence that the organization had never previously closed its investigation of complaints about Ivey — a subject Tim Joyce and I will be exploring further), we pause to remind readers again of what USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus and a long-time board member and former president Dale Neuburger have said under oath about Ivey in civil lawsuits over the national governing body’s liability for abuses by other coaches.
First, here’s Wielgus in Brooke Taflinger v. Brian Hindson, et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, on May 12, 2010. Wielgus was asked about both Ivey and USA Swimming executive Pat Hogan, whose stories are very nearly identical in several respects.
Below, Jim Curran is one of Taflinger’s attorneys. Bernard “Buddy” Pylitt represents defendant Indiana Swimming; he is now chair of USA Swimming’s National Board of Review.
Q But there were — and, again, these — these media accounts, you know, you can just Google it, just Google USA Swimming or USA Swimming swim coaches and fired and sex and see what comes up. And there’s just a ton of names that come up, that I’m sure you know about. I mean, I’ll throw the names out there for you, and you can comment on them. But these are all pre-1999. I mean, you know, some of — it’s famous, famous people, people in big positions. It’s all been — it’s been beat to death in the media. I mean, like, Mitch Ivey, I’ll throw that name out there.
MR. PYLITT: Well, if you’re asking him about Mitch Ivey, I’d instruct him not to answer. Mitch Ivey has nothing to do with this case and is absolutely irrelevant.
MR. CURRAN: Well, I’m asking him now about what USA Swimming knew from the time that he became the Executive Director in 1997. But certainly as the Executive Director of 1997, Chuck has become knowledgeable about things that went before. I mean, there’s documents, there’s — what’s going on, first thing you probably said when you got into the job.
THE WITNESS: Uh-huh.
MR. CURRAN: And that certainly today, as a representative of USA Swimming, I’m asking him whether or not he or other representatives of USA Swimming, to the best of his knowledge, knew about — and I have a list of about ten names that all had documented media account issues of getting fired. And these are all pre — some of them are in the ’80s, the ’80s and the ’90s, about this — the issue that coaches were having relationships with or dating their swimmers. The first one I threw out was Mitch Ivey. Well-documented case. And, you know, my question is, is — was USA Swimming aware of, you know, his situation back when it, you know, was happening or when he was fired and when he got in trouble and the allegations against him.
MR. PYLITT: We are going to object to any questions about any coaches as being irrelevant to the issues in this case, with the exception of Brian Hindson. You may have all the media reports you want. That doesn’t make it relevant. If anything happened after 2000, that’s totally irrelevant to the issues in this case. And if there are any ongoing investigations, as we indicated earlier, under the Amateur Sports Act, the Stevens Act, privacy rules, due process, Chuck is not going to testify about any of them.
MR. CURRAN: I’m not —
MR. PYLITT: You’ve already told me —
MR. CURRAN: — asking about any ongoing investigations.
MR. PYLITT: And you’ve already said that you’re excluding from his answers any rumors or innuendos. We’re talking about actual information and proof. And we’re not going to — he’s not going to testify about any of those because it’s totally irrelevant.
MR. CURRAN: So I just want to make — and we’ll ask the magistrate about this —
MR. PYLITT: That’s fine.
MR. CURRAN: — because we’ve got to call —
MR. PYLITT: That’s fine.
MR. CURRAN: — in a minute. I’m going to ask him about coaches that were either dismissed from their positions —
MR. PYLITT: By their clubs?
MR. CURRAN: Well, by their clubs, by their schools, by their colleges for having relationships with underage swimmers.
MR. PYLITT: Well, we don’t have any jurisdiction over any college coaches or any high school —
MR. CURRAN: But they’re still USA swimmers. They’re still USA Swimming club coaches, both then and now.
MR. LITTLE: Let’s call her up, I think, right?
MR. CURRAN: Are we ready? Is it time?
MR. PYLITT: I just want to make one point.
MR. CURRAN: Is it doing it?
MR. PYLITT: I’ve watched Mr. Little, for four hours here, smirk and laugh and giggle every time Chuck gives an answer to a question. I’m not going to put up for it. And, if we have to, I’ll ask the magistrate to have him removed.
MR. CURRAN: Well, I didn’t know about —
MR. PYLITT: Either he can behave himself and control and quit giggling and acting like a 14-year-old kid or he’s going to leave the room.
MR. LITTLE: Right. Because I’m a petty guy, Buddy.
MR. CURRAN: Well, listen, listen.
MR. PYLITT: First of all —
MR. LITTLE: You’re the pettiest person I’ve met.
MR. PYLITT: Well, I’m just telling you. Mr. Kazmierczak has been watching him. I’ve been watching him.
MR. KAZMIERCZAK: I’m the one who observed it, Mr. Little. I haven’t met you before, and I am not that type of person. I can assure you of that.
MR. PYLITT: This is serious business.
MR. CURRAN: I’m just trying to take a deposition.
MR. PYLITT: I know.
MR. CURRAN: I’m just trying to take a deposition.
THE REPORTER: I can’t get everyone at once.
MR. CURRAN: All right. Is it time to call?
MR. PYLITT: Yeah.
MR. CURRAN: Let’s go off the record.
THE VIDEOGRAPHER: We are off the record at 1:29.
(A recess was taken.)
THE VIDEOGRAPHER: We are back on the record. It is 2:57.
Q Chuck, I want to start talking to you about Pat Hogan. That’s — that’s our — that was issue number one.
Q And in reading, I think, the New York Times article, I think you were quoted as saying something like I’m okay — I was okay with that relationship, or something along those lines?
Q And I don’t know all the details. I only know some. What I know, I think I know, is that he married one of his swimmers; is that correct?
A Um —
Q He married a woman who was once one of his swimmers?
A I think that is correct.
Q And I think he was twenty-nine and she was eighteen when they got married.
A I think he was twenty-six.
Q Okay. Do you know his birth date?
A I don’t.
Q He’s currently sixty-two?
Q Isn’t he?
A I don’t think so. He could be, but I — I would put him in the neighborhood of sixty, but I don’t know which side.
Q Okay. I did arithmetic. My arithmetic came out that he was twenty-eight and she was eighteen, but —
A It could be. I say I thought — I think I said I thought he was twenty-six, but I thought he was in his mid-twenties or twenty-six.
Q Somewhere around there. She was eighteen, and he was twenty-six or twenty-eight, correct, to the best of —
A We think.
Q We think.
A We think.
Q You and I. And we know, we think we know, that hecoached her with the Atlanta Dynamo Swim Club?
A My understanding, for a period of time. I think in the neighborhood of a year.
Q And did you do — when you said you were okay with that relationship or okay with his employment after knowing about that relationship, did you do any investigation whatsoever about that relationship?
A I did not.
Q Okay. So when you said you were okay with that relationship, was that based upon no investigation?
A No. It was based upon my judgment of Pat’s qualities as a person and my belief that what he told me was, about that relationship, was accurate, and my further belief that it was something that I was comfortable with.
Q Did you ever speak to his former wife?
A I did not.
Q Do you know whether or not there was a dating relationship while he was a coach, her coach?
A My understanding is that there was not a dating relationship while he was her coach, that the dating relationship came after she had gone off to college and then returned and that he spoke with her parents prior to dating her and received their — their blessing.
A And I — the only piece I would add to that is she — I believe he said to me that she may have — he had moved on to a different club; that she may have swum with that club during the summer following that first year of college.
Q Meaning that she was swimming for the club and they were dating?
A That was kind of my interpretation of it, right.
Q And —
A But I’m not precisely sure about that piece. The piece I am precisely sure about was that she’d gone off to college, she’d come back, he had talked with her parents, her parents blessed the — believed the — blessed them dating. And then that dating turned into a marriage, and they were married for six years. And the other thing that Pat shared with me — and he’s the one who came to me, sharing all this information. I had never heard anything about it before. And that is — and his wife had, ex-wife, felt there was — not only did he feel there was nothing wrong, her parents felt there was nothing wrong, and she felt there was nothing wrong. And I think the time frame was more — you keep saying ’80s. It might have been even late ’70s, but, I’m — again, I’m not sure about that. But if I did do the math, I come up with late ’70s.
Q Okay. And based upon your discussions with Pat Hogan solely, I mean not with her parents and not with her —
Q — just with Pat Hogan, what he told you —
Q — that’s what you based upon your statement that you were okay with that relationship?
A Well, it was based upon my knowing Pat in a very close and intimate way for a dozen years and my judgment on his — on his — on his character and my belief that what he — he came to me of his own volition and what he shared with me, and I took it — I took that to be accurate.
Q And then —
A To answer your question.
Q And then he — and told me earlier that he had an active role on both the background screening committee or task force and the youth sports protection task force; is that correct?
A That’s correct.
Q With regard to — I talked to you earlier about — I mentioned a name, Mitch Ivey.
Q What do you know about him?
A I know very little about Mitch Ivey.
MR. PYLITT: Jim, just for the record, the judge made it very clear, obviously, that we all have a right for a protective order, and we have that understanding. Just to be overly cautious — and I’m not an expert on the Amateur Sports Act, and I was trying to get educated in the last few moments when we took a break. We cannot allow Chuck to testify about any victims’ names. And I assume you’re not interested in that.
MR. CURRAN: I’m not going there.
MR. PYLITT: Okay. And whether they’re in the process or not, it is my understanding, and Chuck will answer your questions, some may be and may have those rights. And the only other thing I want to say is we definitely want to designate these questions as confidential. You’ve got a right to object to that designation. We’ll look at the whole deposition, but I just — just for privacy purposes, I think I need to be overly cautious and make that —
MR. CURRAN: Yeah. Number one, I’m not going to ask any names of victims, Buddy. And, number two, my understanding of the Act, Ted Stevens Act, I don’t believe any of the people that I’m — any of the names that I’m going to mention now are athletes, coaches or officials under the Act.
MR. PYLITT: Okay.
MR. CURRAN: And if there are, we’ll deal with that.
MR. PYLITT: Yeah.
MR. CURRAN: Okay.
MR. PYLITT: Fair enough.
Q I was asking you about Mitch Ivey.
A Mitch Ivey is currently not a member of USA Swimming, nor — based on my research, is that he has not been a member of USA Swimming for any time during the time that I’ve been there. We have recently received a complaint about Mr. Ivey. We have — I’ll kind of put this in quotes — flagged his name, that should he ever seek to become a member of USA Swimming, that he — we would then initiate an investigation, and he would be subject to a National Board of Review prior to becoming eligible to become a member.
Q So he’s not on that banned list, as you — as we sit here today?
A I do not think he’s on that banned list because — well, I shouldn’t — I just do not think he’s on the banned list, but I’m not a hundred percent sure. But I can’t — if he hasn’t been — if he hasn’t been convicted of anything and there has — and there was no complaint filed against him while he was a member, I can’t think that there would be a reason for him to be on that banned list, which is why we would put him on a flagged list, that should he try to become a member, we would initiate an investigation.
Q Okay. And my understanding is that he was once the University of Florida coach. Do you know that?
A I have heard that, yes, that he was —
Q And he was fired from that position?
A I don’t know under what conditions he —
Q And he’s not presently a member, and he’s not presently coaching, correct, to the best of your knowledge?
A To the best of my — I know he’s not a member.
Q You know he’s not a member.
A I have no idea what he does or where he lives or —
Q Okay. And whether he’s banned or not banned and whether he’s on that list to be published soon, you’re just not positive right now?
A No, I would — I’m positive he — he would be on the flagged list, not on the banned list.
Q Okay. And — by the way, obviously the flagged list is not going to be published, correct? I mean, just the banned list?
A Correct, correct.
A And I’m sorry I wasn’t precise about that before, but I was kind of —
Q Is there other people on the flagged — see, the flagged list is something new to me. Is there other people on the flagged list?
A Yes, there would be other people on the flagged list.
Q Do you know how — does that list exist now?
A That list does exist now, yes.
Q How many people are on the flagged list?
A It might be a couple dozen.
Q And that’s a list that you have that’s generally available to you, you could make available?
A Yes. It’s available —
Q To very few people, I assume.
A Well, it’s available to all of our Local Swim Committees.
Q Oh, it is? I’m sorry. I didn’t know that. It’s a — it’s a list that’s available to LSCs?
Q Not just — okay.
A Right. The way — the way it — the way it actually works on our database is that it — I think it’s — there’s a designation that it needs national office approval. And that’s the designation that would cause us to take someone who’s a non-member, who’s seeking to become a member, that’s the trigger that would cause us to, should they try to become a member, initiate an investigation, and they would have to go through a Board of Review process.
Q You said that you recently received a complaint about Mitch Ivey.
Q When you say recently, a week —
A Within the last couple —
Q — a month?
A Within the last couple weeks.
Q Okay. And was the complaint of a sexual nature?
A It was, but — yes, it was. Yes.
Q Have you — since he’s not a member, have you initiated an investigation through your legal team?
A No. Turned the information over to our legal counsel, and they would initiate an investigation, should he seek to become a member.
Q Okay. So, as we sit here today, it’s just flagged because of the complaint. But is the complaint being investigated now or not?
A Not by us.
A Because, I mean, it could be being investigated by police or —
A — other authorities but not by us. We would not initiate an investigation until the individual seeks to become a member of USA Swimming.
Q And I — and I don’t want to know the person who made the complaint. I have no interest in that. But was the member who made the complaint a member of USA Swimming?
A I do not believe this person was a member. I’m not a hundred percent sure of that, but I do not believe this individual was a member.
Q Were they ever a member?
A I don’t know that either.
Q Okay. Next — the next person I want to ask you about is Everett Uchiyama.[…]