by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
Along with the other nearly 2,000 supporters of the change.org petition that kept USA Swimming chief Chuck Wielgus out of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, we last night received an email signed “19VictimsOfCoachingSexualAbuse.” Here’s the full text:
Congratulations to all of us! As a result of your signature and extensive media coverage, Executive Director Chuck Wielgus will not be honored into the Swimming Hall of Fame, after he repeatedly failed to address sexual abuse of young swimmers. Mission accomplished!
We can’t thank you enough for your signature and your affirming comments! It meant the world to us to be able to tell our stories to you and to be heard. As one sexual abuse victim wrote, “This has literally over joyed me and brought me to tears many times over today. I hope you will be celebrating as I am with my family tonight!”
But we’re not stopping here; we’re asking for help from Congress. Click here for a new petition! http://tinyurl.com/krm2udw How? We’re asking Congress to amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act to protect girls and women from sex discrimination, including sexual abuse in non-school sports, the same way that Title IX protects students in schools. Congress oversees the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Swimming through the “Sports Act.” You can read it here.
Why Congress? We can’t get reform any other way. Over the years, USA Swimming has insulated itself to a small group of “swimming insiders” of just 200-300 hand-picked people, rather than the 400,000 members of USAS. They make sure that the sponsor’s money flows to Wielgus, who earns over $900,000 a year, and his well-paid cronies. But more importantly, this small group has allowed a culture to continue that allows sexual abusers to prey upon the athletes they coach.
In addition, we’re asking Congress to hold those responsible for perjury and cover up of sexual abuse. As the petition to the Hall of Fame that you signed made clear, USA Swimming and Chuck Wielgus committed perjury and covered up sexual abuse. Congress should investigate USA Swimming’s presently constituted leadership group, including Chuck Wielgus, President Bruce Stratton, Pat Hogan and Mike Unger for perjury, misrepresentation, concealing evidence and covering up information concerning pedophile swim coaches. A criminal investigation should ensue concerning USA Swimming’s criminal violations of, for example, 18 U.S.C. 1621 – 1622 and 18 U.S.C. Code 1001 and 1519 and/or other laws.
At the very least, we think these leaders should resign from their positions.
We, the victims, love this great sport and are deeply concerned about the failed policies and actions of the leadership and organization. We want our sport ridded of child molester coaches and corrupt leaders running this organization. We think the best way to accomplish this is through Congressional action that will hold the leaders of this organization accountable for their misconduct and to make the necessary changes to keep over 400,000 members of the organization safe from sexual abuse. We hope you’ll stay with us! Click HERE! http://tinyurl.com/krm2udw
Of course, Concussion Inc.’s reporting and analysis on this will be ongoing. First thought: This welcome initiative muscles the United States Olympic Committee out of today’s headlines — at this outlet, at least. Just as the women were launching a new and more ambitious campaign for federal oversight and accountability, USOC was announcing its intention to set up a new sex-police agency. An “independent” one, naturally, conceived the only way these people know how to confront a social problem: by throwing $10 million in seed money at it. See “USOC sets up agency to investigate sex abuse,” http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/story/usoc-sets-up-agency-to-investigate-sex-abuse-061014.
We’re sure Congressman George Miller has his eye on both ends of this spectrum of proposed solutions. We’re also confident he knows which one is real, and which is smoke and mirrors.
Complete links to Concussion Inc.’s coverage of the petition drive that forced the withdrawal of the Chuck Wielgus induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame are at “Chuck Wielgus Belongs in the Hall of Justice, Not the Hall of Fame,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=9233.
This week’s cover story in South Florida’s New Times, “An Underage Sex Scandal Leads to South Florida’s Swimming Hall of Fame,” is at http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2014-06-05/news/sex-scandal-swimming-hall-of-fame-fort-lauderdale/.