by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
With Concussion Inc.s publication of the more explicit public records that are slowly being surrendered by the City of Fort Lauderdale, proof of the scope of Alex Pussieldis crimes against the youth swimmers of South Florida and of the cover-up of those crimes by police, public officials, swimming organizations, and the sports-crazed, sex-shamed community where Pussieldi spread dysfunction, commercialism, exploitation, and human trafficking is coming into focus.
The spotlight turns to a young woman named Kaley Lucas, who last decade was the girlfriend of a Pussieldi victim.
These reporters have tried every available means to make contact with Lucas. They have included messages via both her Facebook account and one of her supervisors at Hollywood Fire Rescue and Beach Safety. As a public employee and as a lifeguard, and as an adult, she should understand that reporting sex offenses trumps her personal discomfort. Unfortunately, our intermediaries have reported back to us that Lucas flat-out refuses to talk. A journalist for a local newspaper reportedly got the same answer.
Kaley Lucass testimony is all the more important in light of the references to her father, not all of them entirely accurate, in the 2004 Fort Lauderdale police Special Victims Unit report we published last week (http://muchnick.net/pussieldispecialvictims.pdf). In that document he is called Ken Lucas, but his name is Richard Lucas. He, too, has not responded to multiple phone messages left at a number in Davie, which we believe is a good one.
Either Rick Lucas did not tell the full truth in his interview with Detective Jeff Jennings, or the police officer did not faithfully record what Lucas told him. The Special Victims Unit report states:
On 3/22/04 I spoke with Ken [sic] Lucas and asked if [REDACTED] remembered any type of incident that had occurred between [REDACTED] and Pussieldi. [REDACTED] told me all [REDACTED] knew is what [REDACTED] daughter had told him about the incident. I asked [REDACTED] if he had spoke to Pussieldi concerning the incident and [REDACTED] stated no.
If the incident here is discovery of Peeping Tom videotaping, plus tapes of Pussieldi having sex with boys, plus possession of child pornography, the truth is that Lucas did speak with Pussieldi about at least the first of those, according to multiple sources. The implication that Lucas had no first-hand knowledge is also contradicted by testimony in the same report by the core victim and accuser, a Mexican swimmer:
[REDACTED] also stated that [REDACTED] had told [REDACTED] girlfriends parents (Ken Lucas) about the camera and they had confronted Pussieldi, and Pussieldi had admitted everything to them.
Lets tell the whole story as best we know it, front to back. If Kaley Lucas or Rick Lucas or anyone else wants to offer amendments or corrections, we will reflect their accounts in future coverage.
In addition to the Lucas family, we would like to hear from Stu Marvin, the former Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex manager, who is clearly shown in public records as orchestrating a Pussieldi cover-up in concert with Jack Nelson, owner and head coach of the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team; other Fort Lauderdale Parks & Recreation Department officials; Fort Lauderdale police; and Sharon Robb, a reporter for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. Marvin, now swimming coach at Bloomsburg State University in Pennsylvania, did not return our calls and emails. The president of Bloomsburg State said we shouldnt be bothering him to nudge Marvin to respond to mere questions about unreported sexual abuse on his watch in a former job.
Still more custodians of childhood education and safety who owe an accounting to the good people of the Florida gold coast include the Archdiocese of Miami, whose St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale employed Pussieldi as head swim coach and co-head swim coach both before and after the 2004 revelations.
Then theres the storied Pine Crest private school, in whose swimming program Pussieldi worked side by side with Roberto Caragol, a confessed trafficker in child porn as well as a confessed molester of both female and male swimmers in his orbit.
Nor were the Caragol-Pussieldi years an historical aberration for Pine Crest: in a 2007 cover story in the New Times weekly, exploring open water swimming legend Diana Nyads allegations that Jack Nelson serially raped her beginning when she was 14, the retired head of the school concluded that Nyads version of events was more credible than that of the International Swimming Hall of Fame coach, who in those years operated out of Pine Crest.
The Pussieldi accuser, who in 04 had a physical altercation with the coach that led to police and USA Swimming complaints and whom Concussion Inc. previously has identified only as the Mexican swimmer is Roberto Cabrera Paredes. At the time of the assault-and-battery complaint, he was named by the Sun-Sentinel (which, however, censored the more important sex offense allegations, as Pussieldi continued in his career in the region as a coach and eventually a swim club owner).
Though Cabrera Paredes name is redacted in the police reports, his allegations corroborated by numerous sources are front and center. Withholding it from our own coverage no longer is appropriate. He appears to have gone on to the University of Maryland and a career as a visual artist. Now 30 years old, he lives back in Mexico, according to friends. Though we have what we believe is a good email address, we have not succeeded in connecting with Cabrera Paredes.
He was one of three main victims of Pussieldis secret videos. All three were Fort Lauderdale Swim Team athletes and tenants in Pussieldis house. The other two were Brazilians. It is not known if Pussieldi was legal guardian of either of the Brazilians; Cabrera Paredes told the police that Pussieldi was his legal guardian before he turned 18.
One of the Brazilians still lives in Broward County, where he owns a business. He refused to talk with us.
The other Brazilian was the Kaley Lucas boyfriend. He went to Arizona State University before returning to South Florida in various coaching capacities and business ventures in association with Pussieldi. It is unclear whether he is now in Florida or back in Brazil.
A very reliable source confirms the Cabrera Paredes claim that Pussieldi confessed everything about the videotaping. Specifically, after Kaleys parents confronted Pussieldis boss, Jack Nelson, the source said Pussieldi visited the Lucases, in tears, and said it was all true. Pussieldi explained that he had a crush on Kaleys boyfriend, but was getting help for his problem.
The same help language appears in the USA Swimming investigators report (published two months ago here, at http://muchnick.net/pussieldi.pdf). And sources say that was also the line at a meeting of, among others, Pussieldi, Nelson, and Parks & Rec official Marvin.
Theres a dated, even Victorian, tint to the idea that homosexuality can be addressed by a psychiatrists cure. Nowhere is there any evidence that people in charge believed it their duty to keep a sex offender away from children, whether or not the offender was getting help (or said he was), and whether the victims were boys or girls or both. As Cabrera Paredes said in his USA Swimming interview, the overriding fear of all concerned was that the resulting scandal would sink the swim team and sully Parks & Rec.
Were the hidden-camera findings a one-time thing or a pattern? Leaving aside the academic reality that recidivism rates in this area are astronomical, there are plenty of before-and-after charges against Pussieldi. The after part includes J.P. Cotes observation of inappropriate touching of a young swimmer by Pussieldi at a November 2012 meet in Plantation.
There is also the evidence of Pussieldis boarding of young male swimmers always couched as a multicultural welcome mat for dislocated foreign athletes getting their opportunity for big-time training in America. Pussieldi put these kids up on small and large scales, first at his several houses in and around Fort Lauderdale. One local source pages back to when the Brazilian who would become Kaley Lucass boyfriend shared a bedroom and a set of bunk beds with three other young males in Pussieldis house. It is not known if this was the same as the house-share Cabrera Paredes described, or a different but similar situation.
Later Pussieldi would house his Davie Nadadores imports on the campus of Nova Southeastern University until last year, when the school, alarmed by the absence of supervision and potential legal exposure, kicked the program out.
Along with the Florida Gold Coast Swimming suspensions last year of Pussieldi and partner Tomas Victoria, Novas ejection was the key factor forcing Pussieldis announced retirement from coaching and retreat to Brazil. Back in his native country, he enjoys the life of a television sports personality. On social media, he flaunts his jet-set lifestyle, tweeting photos of things like his airline ticket to a meeting of FINA, the international swimming governing body. Swimming is a marquee event of the 16 Summer Games in Rio, and Pussieldi is well-connected with people like Dale Neuburger, the former USA Swimming board president and offshore insurance subsidiary architect who helped set him up with the Kuwait Swimming Association.
What a breathtaking passage through the swimming world. And what a sordid one. How many boys and girls lives were scarred, avoidably and without corrective resources, in the decade since USA Swimming threw a blanket over the Roberto Cabrera Paredes allegations?
This is an organization run, of course, by Chuck Wielgus, who despite multiple documented instances of coach Peeping Tom videos Pussieldis and others swore under oath to a court in 2010 that this category of offenses was not on the radar screen prior to 2008.
In June, Wielgus will be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame conveniently located in the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex. Maybe Congressman George Miller will consider coming down at the same time and holding a House Committee on Education and the Workforce field hearing on the long-running national disgrace of coach sex abuse in our Olympic sports programs.