Saturday, June 26, 2010

USA Swimming Sex Abuse Scandal: When is a complaint by a victim an "official complaint" and when it is just a complaint?

I use to think that USA Swimming was "cagey" in regards to the way they addressed the sex abuse cases and the TYR anti-trust lawsuit.... Well, this email completely erased those opinions. I now realize they just going down the same road as the Catholic church did; simply following legal counsel and hoping it will all go away.

Well, we are all "Catholics" now.

If a victim writes the CEO of a company and says "I was sexually harassed or sexually assaulted", not only is that a formal complaint, that is a "shot across your bow," and you better do something even if the victim requests that you don't.

Once you know a crime or a potential crime may be taking place, you're now responsible since this is your "ship" under attack.

Only thing I can assume is that the CEO of USA Swimming must of thought that since the swimmer stated she did not want to file a "formal complaint", in some way this was a "get out of jail free" card or "this is not a formal complaint" card so USA Swimming can sit on their hands and keep their "pie-holes" shut.

The San Jose Mercury news has just released private emails between a victim in the Andrew King sex abuse crimes she exchanged with Chuck Wielgus, the head of USA Swimming.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

"... In her lengthy, Jan. 20, 2003, e-mail to Pacific Swimming's Benton, Kelly described her experience swimming for King at Chabot 10 years earlier. She said she "was shaking as I type," and called King "a terribly abusive coach" who had made female swimmers kiss the males in front of the team before practice. If they didn't, the whole team had to swim extra laps. "Andy timed it with a stop watch, because the rule was I had to kiss this person for 30 seconds," she wrote.

King also subjected swimmers to
lengthy diatribes, filled with comments like "stupid bitch" and "you are an idiot" if they did not swim as well as he wanted, she wrote in her e-mail.

In the same e-mail, she said "over 10 years later, I feel I need to say what I wish I said then. I can't change what happened but maybe something can be done to stop this from continuing." She wrote that she was "writing not to lodge a formal complaint, because perhaps too much time has gone by...."


"... In a Jan. 27, 2003, e-mail, Wielgus wrote that he had talked to the group's attorney and "here is our counsel:

"1. No formal complaint is being filed, so there is no formal action for you or us to take.

"2. You should monitor the situation and alert us if any new information comes forward.

"3. USA Swimming will open a file on this matter and while we will take no action at this time, we will remain alert for any new information.

"4. This matter should be kept confidential by both you and us.

"5. When and if any new information comes forward, we will assess the situation at that time and determine if any action is required."


Why should it be kept quiet? Seemed like that coach needed a bit of scrutiny and now I believe that USA Swimming does too!


livefreeswimhard said...

We just may need to boycott USA Swimming events until these guys step down. This is completely unacceptable.

Tony Austin said...

Having the coaches vote in a new board might be easier.

Anonymous said...

My daughters are going to swim practice tonight. Awesome. I might just encourage them to take up handball or something else instead. This is horrifying. How do we get rid of these people who condone sexual abuse with their silence and cover-ups? Our sport deserves better than this.

Tony Austin said...

Here is my suggestion: Keep your daughters in swimming but talk to the club they swim with and tell them how disturbed you are at the USA Swimming situation.

Tell them that you want a to ensure that they will vote correctly in late summer for a new USA Swimming board member, a member that wants to encourage new rules and policies and not press releases.

See what they say... In fact find out who the current board of director is for you locale and call them.

I hope this helps

Anonymous said...

This coach Andy King was my coach in the late 70's. My parents tried to get him fired back then when it was suspected he was sleeping with an underage swimmer. Plenty of people knew about him. USA Swimming would not have had to look very far to find a history of complaints about him. I had no idea he was still in coaching until I read about his arrest. USA Swimming has a lot of cleaning up to do.

Tony Austin said...

Your parents rule! :-D

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Tony. That's a great suggestion. I will talk to my kid's swim club and I will encourage other swim parents to do the same. You and Chris are doing a great job keeping this story "out there" while so many others try to bury it.

Phyllis said...

I believe that youth teams, swimming, baseball, scouting, etc should hire a trained therapist to speak with the members of the team about how to identify suspicious behavior, how to effectively report on a abusive adult (in writing with a witness) and how to deal emotionally with being abused or witnessing abuse. Parents should also be required to attend and taught about "denial", believing their children and being brave enough to support their children. In Lake Oswego, Oregon some parents of an abusive swim coach actually suggested to their children that the abuse was not so bad and the parents testified for the coach in court. This coach was subsequently exposed for abusing for the past 30 years and last year was finally denied his coaching license by USA Swimming. Why is our society so afraid to talk about sexual abuse when it is common knowledge that at least 25% of all women will be sexually abused in their lifetime and almost as high for boys. We can only stop this disease with education and vigilence.

Tony Austin said...

Stockholm syndrome.

Anonymous said...

I abolutely agree what King did was terribly wrong and i despise the way USA Swimming handles complaints. At he same time based on oberving our practices situation described above could not happen! There are some parents present at every session, we have at minimum two coaches on deck at all times etc...Girls forced to kiss males before practice for 30 s and no parent knew about this? Perhaps some parents knew and preferred to look other way? These were different times from what we observe today.