by Tim Joyce and Irvin Muchnick
The mother of a Massachusetts girl who was raped by her USA Swimming coach today corresponded with Victor Vieth, author of a commissioned review of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program, which was published yesterday to great fanfare.
The mother is none too happy about the aftermath of her own contact with Vieth, which we detailed two months ago at https://concussioninc.net/?p=8343. Five days following the consultant’s interview of the mother, presumably as part of his fact-finding, she received a cold letter from USA Swimming by FedEx, telling her that the daughter’s complaint was dismissed.
Since Vieth’s charge was to assess Safe Sport, he might argue that he was not obliged to involve himself in individual cases. But we believe the Massachusetts anecdote needs to be told and retold, because Vieth’s report itself fell back on a sentimental anecdote in the other direction. In the very opening section, Vieth writes:
“Three survivors spoke positively about USA Swimming’s handling of their outcries of abuse[.]… These survivors believed their cases were handled sensitively with one survivor telling us USA Swimming personnel listened to her cry for hours at a time, helped her obtain counseling and provided her a ‘mentor’ to assist in testifying against her former coach. These are not isolated examples … and should be celebrated.”
Vieth tells of “two other survivors, and the mother of a third,” with “very different feelings.”
These two reporters have talked to many more than six victims who have had post-2010 contacts with the USA Swimming staff. We have never heard of anything approaching a complainant being supplied with a mentor, plus support in testifying. On the other hand, we have heard time and again of victims who had legalisms thrown in their faces, along with conclusions that their cases were being dismissed over the accusers’ unwillingness “to come forward.”
Against that background, here is the complete text of the mother’s email to Vieth today:
I read your report. Although it has some possitive suggestions, I know they fell on deaf ears. I was so optimistic when I first heard of your investigation, I thought finally there is someone out there to expose USA swimming and these coaches. Sadly, you let me down. I gave you information detailing the violent rape of my 13 year old daughter. Within a week, I got a fedEX from USA swimming stating they were closing the case until she was willing to come forward and face him. Your report will bring no change to the system. I put you in the same category as USA swimming and Safe Sport. Your cause is not the athletes. Instead, the administration of USA swimming will continue to make a lot of money, and cover up what is going on all over the country. The pedophile coaches will continue to move from team to team ruining the lives of children. You and safe sport can call yourselves what you want, but you are all part of this, and responsible for the results.
Vieth has not responded to our requests for comment. We continue to invite his take on this scenario; his rejoinder to the argument that his representation of “positive” and other feedback to interactions with USA Swimming staff was skewed and prejudicial; and a fuller accounting than the vague language about what he was paid by USA Swimming (“around $25,000,” followed by an equivocal and imprecise qualifying footnote).