2015 Reset: Congressman Asks FBI to ‘Fully Investigate USA Swimming’s Handling of Child Sexual Abuse’

2015 Reset: ‘How the USA Swimming Sexual Abuse Scandals Became a Federal Case’
January 6, 2015
2015 Reset: Does Outside Magazine’s USA Swimming Sex Abuse Article Mean Real Accountability Is at Hand?
January 8, 2015


“How the USA Swimming Sexual Abuse Scandals Became a Federal Case”

Next: Our review of Rachel Sturtz’s article in the December issue of Outside magazine.



Published October 22nd, 2014

Muchnick & Joyce podcast on the Miller-FBI documents on USA Swimming:



by Tim Joyce and Irvin Muchnick


Congressman George Miller has released an exchange of summer letters with the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in which the ranking minority member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee requests FBI intervention in the USA Swimming youth coach sexual abuse scandals.

Miller, a Democrat from California’s 11th District, wrote to FBI director James B. Comey on July 9 to “respectfully request that you fully investigate USA Swimming’s handling of both past and present cases of child sexual abuse.”

In the FBI’s August 26 reply to Miller’s detailed and heavily footnoted 11-page letter, the bureau’s acting deputy assistant director, Maxwell B. Marker, wrote in part, “FBI representatives recently met with USA Swimming officials and discussed applicable federal violations associated with child exploitation matters [and] the vulnerabilities of those within USA Swimming.”

The congressman’s office released the letters Tuesday morning to a handful of media outlets, including Concussion Inc., with the provision that the material be embargoed from publication until midnight Thursday Eastern time.

A facsimile of the documents is viewable at http://muchnick.net/millertofbi.pdf.

The Miller-FBI exchange increases the movement toward direct federal government involvement in the abuse scandals in swimming and other sports under the aegis of the U.S. Olympic Committee through the Amateur Sports Act. Capitol Hill sources say that Miller, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the current term, is in active discussions with other legislators in both the House and the Senate about pursuing the USA Swimming investigations in 2015.

Next year is also when the Government Accountability Office is expected to deliver a report, requested by Miller last year, about the relationship of amateur sports programs to federal laws on the reporting of abuse.

The Miller letter to the FBI contains the strongest public language yet by a federal official in relation to media revelations, many of them exclusively at Concussion Inc., on abuse cover-ups in swimming:

  • “[T]he alarming allegations and high-profile reports of sexual abuse in the ranks of USA Swimming necessitate closer scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
  • “Together, USA Swimming’s historical failures to address child abuse, the existence of ‘non-compliant victim’ files that leave children exposed to future harm, and the fact that the Safe Sport Program appears not to work for all victims raise significant concerns around USA Swimming’s ability to police its ranks sufficiently.”
  • “USA Swimming is regularly failing to address abuse allegations in a complete and timely manner, even though, according to the organization, no statute of limitations exists for abuse cases within its ranks.”
  • “[L]eadership and other staff within USA Swimming possess information about previous and presumably present cases of abuse, that, if ignored or improperly investigated, leave children at risk of abuse.”
  • “Because basic information about predatory coaches may be kept secret and not shared, predatory coaches banned by USA Swimming may pursue and abuse additional victims.”

In isolating the lapses of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program, initiated in 2010, Miller cited the reporting by Joyce of a 2011 case in Alaska: “After nine months without response” to a complaint involving the abuse of a 15-year-old girl, “USA Swimming eventually declared that the case had been reviewed and closed.”

“[A]nther example where USA Swimming’s Safe Sport Program rules do not appear to have been followed” was in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 2012, the congressman wrote.

Miller also discussed, without naming him, the multiple investigations into the misconduct of Alex Pussieldi, who is now retired from coaching in Florida and working as a national television network swimming commentator in his native Brazil. Miller cited a cover story about Pussieldi earlier this year in South Florida’s New Times weeklies; the article heavily quoted Muchnick and Joyce, and cited Concussion Inc.’s coverage:

“USA Swimming did not address the videotaping, child sexual abuse, and child pornography allegations [against Pussieldi], and to date, the organization has neither commented on, nor acted on, that information. Regrettably, the coach was subsequently hired by other private schools.”

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Muchnick & Joyce podcast on the Miller-FBI documents on USA Swimming:


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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick