by Irvin Muchnick
I wrote early and often in praise of Safe4Athletes, the organization founded by former Olympic swimmer and coach abuse survivor Katherine Starr. See:
But the world turns, and there is nothing to celebrate in this week’s news from Safe4Athletes: the announcement that Starr accepted a spot on the figurehead advisory council for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s new $5.2 million sex police agency, the “United States Center For Safe Sport.”
On that board – described in the press release as “independent,” naturally – Starr joins such “industry experts in abuse prevention” as Stephanie Smith of the Gundersen Health System’s Child Protection Training Center (misidentified in the USOC press release as “Child Protection Training Services”). Smith’s boss, the center’s director emeritus Victor Vieth, supervised the “independent” review of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program, which, surprise!, concluded that the program was coming along very nicely. Vieth said his group was paid “around $25,000” for this effort. USA Swimming documents suggest the number was “around $100,000” – and that as a down payment toward untold millions in “expert services” and political cover.
In an email, I asked Starr to explain her mission on the advisory council. She didn’t respond.
In a second email, I asked Starr to disclose the terms of her appointment, monetary and otherwise, as well as the projected operations of the council. Will it meet? When and where and how often? Will it create proactive work product, or simply respond to USOC questions? Or just sit there? Starr didn’t respond to that message, either.