Oregon Park District: We Are Separate From Tualatin Hills Swim Club, Knew Nothing About Paul Bergen Sex Abuse Prior to Concussion Inc. Inquiry

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December 19, 2013

by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce

 

Eighteen days after our initial query to the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, and three days after the conclusion of the latest edition of a 15-year-old annual junior international swim meet — and the first no longer named after rapist Hall of Fame coach Paul Bergen — the general manager of the district distanced his public agency from the Tualatin Hills Swim Club, which stages the meet, and disclaimed knowledge of Bergen.

Doug Menke, the Park and Rec administrator, said in a letter to Concussion Inc. that the swim club is “a separate independent entity.”

“Letters of Agreement have been in place since 1997 and describe the relationship between THPRD and each of five affiliated Aquatics Clubs, one of which is THSC,” Menke added.

On the question of the district’s knowledge of allegations of sex crimes against Bergen — which were nationally televised without his name in 2012 and nationally publicized with his name shortly thereafter — Menke said, “THPRD was unaware of the allegations you noted until we received your November 30, 2013 communication…. Upon advice of THPRD’s legal counsel, we informed both the THSC President and the THSC Head Coach of your contact and allegations.”

Statements to Portland’s Oregonian about the Bergen matter, by both USA Swimming and the Tualatin Hills club, have stopped at asserting that they did not know whether the public allegations by Bergen’s original accuser, Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff Schmidt, are true. The patent inadequacy of these statements was made more pronounced by our report yesterday on additional detailed allegations by Melissa Halmi, another Cincinnati swimmer coached by Bergen in the 1970s.

Unlike USA Swimming and the Tualatin Hills Swim Club, however, Menke did go to the trouble of denouncing sexual abuse: “THPRD emphatically neither supports nor condones mistreatment of any person, including victims of sexual abuse. THPRD additionally supports the provision of assistance to all victims of mistreatment regardless of the circumstances.”

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