by Irvin Muchnick
There are numerous problems with the weekend announcement that the USA Swimming board of directors has approved a task force plan to implement Safe Sport program “improvements” that were recommended in a January report by bought-and- paid-for child protection shill Victor Vieth. The problems start with the name and location of the task force chair, Jay Thomas of Plantation, Florida.
That’s right: The U.S. Olympic Committee’s national sanctioning body for swimming is fronting its latest attempt to get a grip on coach sexual abuse and cover-up with an official who lives exactly where Alex Pussieldi got off easily, without a concerted investigation by either the local police or USA Swimming, after a parent complained of Pussieldi’s inappropriate touching of a swimmer in November 2012.
That incident came to light a mere eight years and nine months after the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team, the Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department, and the police found multiply confirmed and undenied allegations of Peeping Tom videotaping by Pussieldi to be insufficient information to deter business as usual. Jay Thomas and USA Swimming’s local affiliate, Florida Gold Coast Swimming, enabled Pussieldi’s trafficking and housing of young foreign swimmers for more than a decade.
“The Safe Sport Program Review Task Force was mindful to balance the desire to implement everything possible with the reality of a course of action which would actually be attainable,” chair Thomas said. See http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/USA/38990.asp.
Anyone with a passing familiarity with the rhetoric of such reports can see where the weight of the words is stacked in favor of “actually be attainable” and against “everything possible.”
One of the groups from which the task force sought feedback was the American Swimming Coaches Association, whose executive director John Leonard has denied he runs an organization “[dealing] with children in any way, shape, or form.” Presumably, ASCA members preponderantly coach duckbill platypuses. ASCA also just hired a new law firm to help foreign coaches like Pussieldi with all those pesky green card problems.
The one decent recommendation of the Vieth report, obviously designed to head off federal investigations, is the creation of a victims’ assistance fund. The public has no idea how large that fund will need to be — in the South Florida of Jay Thomas or throughout the land, where a professionalized youth sports system and a cult of the coach endangers on a daily basis the 400,000 kid swimmers under their thumb.