by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
Alfredo Martinez, a Mexican national who swims and majors in mechanical engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, yesterday confirmed that a USA Swimming investigator has interviewed him for an investigation of Dustin Perry, the head coach of the Tigersharks club in Carson City, Nevada.
In a public document, Martinez has said that he met Perry while he was coaching in Mexico and that Martinez moved to Pocatello, Idaho, to swim with Perry’s team there. USA Swimming’s investigation concerns sexual misconduct allegations against Perry in Pocatello — a decade after the organization suspended Perry for 18 months for positive abuse findings against him on the club he coached in Edmond, Oklahoma, 15 miles outside Oklahoma City. The old investigation also found that Perry previously had been terminated by a YMCA in the Oklahoma City area.
In writing about Martinez’s statements to us, these reporters are not asserting that Martinez himself was a victim of Perry. And it is clear that Martinez does not consider himself a victim.
Martinez emailed: “I already talked to the people investigating this case, I have no desire of talking to the media about it. I will only talk to the authorities if is needed to defend Dustin.”
Asked to clarify whether the people investigating this case, to whom he has already spoken, were from USA Swimming or law enforcement, Martinez replied, “I only talked to a USA Swimming investigator.”
It is known that Paulette Brundage, a former FBI agent who is one of USA Swimming’s consulting investigators, has been interviewing witnesses of Pocatello-based complaints about Perry since the middle of 2013. Yet Perry was allowed to resign late in the year and accept the new job in Nevada.
Questions also arise as to whether the employers of Perry’s many other coaching stops, in both the U.S. and Mexico, were ever apprised of the circumstances of his 2003-04 suspension.
The assessment of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program by child protection expert Victor Vieth, which was released yesterday, devoted pages to the evolution of the group’s outsourced criminal background checks for coaches. However, the Vieth study said nothing about a serious disclosure gap, which existed prior to Safe Sport in 2010 and, the Perry file suggests, still exists today: the failure by USA Swimming to share, either with the public or with its own member clubs, information about job applicants from the national organization’s own internal administrative investigations.
In light of the checkered multi-state histories of Perry and many other coaches with trails of substantial abuse allegations, the communications blackout seems willful, in addition to athlete- and community-endangering.
Martinez had himself previously told of meeting Perry in Mexico and moving here to swim under him. According to swimming sources, the original USA Swimming investigation of Perry in Oklahoma also uncovered information that the coach housed foreign exchange students.