by Irvin Muchnick
The taboo on talking about the damage Alex Pussieldi has done to the swimming community of South Florida over the last decade and a half is over.
With our publication two months ago of a suppressed USA Swimming report of a swimmer with unrefuted claims that Pussieldi had secretly videotaped him in the bathroom when the coach was both his landlord and his legal guardian – and with all the other allegations flowing from that – people are talking in Fort Lauderdale. And in Plantation. And in Davie. And on Hollywood Beach and in Mexico.
There is no stopping the march to the larger truths about the those who have covered up for Pussieldi. He is now in semi-exile in Brazil: half fleeing from administrative and criminal law; half thumbing his social-media nose as he jet-sets for the television network that will be covering the 2016 Summer Olympics in his native country.
Though inexorable, the process is not linear. People in the know about this guy are talking. Still, some of the players with the last pieces of slam-dunk knowledge remain hunkered down, reticent about coming forward or perhaps awaiting the perfect moment to do so.
One such player is an assistant club coach in Broward County. We won’t name him or the informers with whom he has spoken privately. He isn’t returning our messages. But our readers should understand the following: A year ago, this man approached a concerned person down there who is hot on Pussieldi’s trail.
“I appreciate what you’re doing,” the coach said to the informer. “Don’t stop.”
The coach went on to tell the informer that he knew an abuse victim from one of Pussieldi’s coaching stops in Florida in the mid-2000’s. From the way he was told, the informer believes there are two possibilities: that the coach had a friend who was molested by Pussieldi, or that the coach himself was the victim and was speaking elliptically when he referred to “a friend.”
Either way, we hope this coach joins the active effort sooner than later. The Pussieldi taboo has been shattered, and it is only in the daylight of accountability that his victims will heal.