Friday, April 09, 2010

Chuck Wielgus: Asked if he had apologized to any of the young teen victims, Wielgus responded, "You feel I need to apologize to them?..."

Here is the rest of the quote in context, or as the context that presented itself in what one could argue is a biased article.

From ABC News at

"... Wielgus says the local swim clubs, not the national organization, bear the responsibility to check the full backgrounds of swimming coaches they hire.

He said the 36 coaches banned by the organization over the last ten years were only a tiny fraction of the organization's 12,000 coaches in that time period.

"Thirty six does seem like a whole lot. A hundred is even more. Five hundred is even more," he told correspondent Brian Ross.

Asked if he had apologized to any of the young teen victims, Wielgus responded, "You feel I need to apologize to them?"

He added, "I think it's unfair for you to ask me whether individually or me as the representative of an organization to apologize for something when all we are trying to do is everything we possibly can to create a safe and healthy environment for kids who are participating in our particular activity." ..."

[Link] It is on page three.

Now, when posters on the message board "turned, burned and went ballistic" using lots really hot rhetoric, a poster who signed his name Chuck Wielgus gave this response below:

"I understand and appreciate the sentiment, and even the outrage, that some people might have over my comments about apologizing, or not apologizing, to the victims of these terrible crimes. While the quotes are accurate, they fail to take into account the context in which they were given during my interview with Brian Ross.

I agreed to participate in the interview with Mr, Ross because I saw this as an opportunity to openly discuss what is a major societal issue and global problem. The issue of inappropriate behavior by adults with underage youth is something that every youth-serving organization must face; including all youth sports programs, schools, camps, clubs, religious youth groups, etc. While no organization has a child protection system that is fool proof, USA Swimming has safeguards that are constantly being reviewed and improved upon.

When Mr. Ross agressively asked me if I owed an apology to the victims, I confess to taking umbrage to what I at first interpreted as a personal attack. Having worked with the volunteer and staff leaders of USA Swimming for more than a dozen years, I knew first-hand how committed these people were to constantly finding ways to improve every aspect of the organization's programs and services and my comments were a reflex reaction to what I perceived as an unfair attack.

My heart breaks for these poor kids who lost so much of their innocence when they put their trust and faith in a coach who then used his position of trust and authority to take advantage of them. I'm incredibly sorry these awful things happened, but the reality is that I also believe USA Swimming was doing everything it reasonably could to have appropriate safeguards in place; and we will continue to evaluate and implement whatever additional safeguards we can to help our member clubs provide as safe and healthy an environment as possible for the hundreds of thousands of kids who have chosen to participate in sport of swimming. -- Chuck Wielgus ..."

[Link to message board]

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