Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sanctioned USA Swimming coach Todd Sousa arrested on suspicion of sex with a minor!

Two readers sent this to me: one was a notable swim blogger and the other an accomplished coach who was even on deck at the Olympics.

USA Swimming has another alleged swim crime to deal with.

Todd Sousa is/was a registered coach with USA Swimming. I suppose that means he had an ASCA affiliation but I have no details. He has since been red flagged as soon as USA Swimming was notified.

From the Orange County Register:

Sousa is believed to have had sex with the girl over several months, said Lt. John Meyer, chief of police services for San Juan Capistrano.

The victim, identified as a girl under 16, had talked to a friend about her relationship with Sousa, Meyer said. The friend eventually told her parents and information was relayed to the victim's parents.


I commend the friend/teammate for speaking out. When hearing about a crime such as this, you go to the parents and you make sure they go to the cops.

I did research on this guy and if you Google his name all sorts of work with young kids come up. It wasn't pleasant but the worst part of all was looking at the "age of consent" from state-to-state. If the link below is real, there are several "red states" that ought to be ashamed of themselves. For instance:

Idaho: Age 14
South Carolina: 14/16
West Virginia: 16
Virginia: 15


I commend USA Swimming for having a rule of no sexual interaction between a coach and their swimmers. Let's just hope this gentleman, if guilty, has never had a record along with a missed background check. If so, it is my opinion that USA Swimming and ASCA should get spanked.


Tropicalpenguin said...

USA Swimming and ASCA have rules that go far beyond the law and enforce them within the law. Policing every swim practice and competition with thousands of coaches across the country isn't possible, but every proven conviction of a coach acting against these strong rules has been enforced 100% of the time. Most swim coaches are honorable and provide a service that includes an example of proper and legal conduct, saves lives, and enhance the education and the skill set needed for success throughout swimmer's lives. The small percentage who break the law or the rules, which as you stated are even stricter within USA Swimming, are kept from coaching once they break the rules. In America, criminal activity must be proven, and, once it is, USA Swimming and ASCA have a perfect record of pulling coach's professional credentials. In fact, even before this case is proven, USA Swimming has removed Mr. Sousa's right to coach until and unless he is exhonerated. ASCA was the first youth sports organization to institute a code of conduct all coach members must sign and which became a template for many other sports organizations in this country.

Tony Austin said...

I do have a solid command of civics and the presumption of innocence therein. I make that clear in the article.

Next, USA Swimming does NOT have an exemplary record of removing coaches or taking action... Should I link you to the infamous "let's keep this between you and me..." email regarding a swimmer who was sexually harassed or the fact that Coach Everett Uchiyama was placed on a banned list of coaches yet USA Swimming's brass; (in plural tense), gave Uchiyama a solid recommendation if not glowing, to The Country Club in Colorado Springs who hired him as a swim coach.

The Colorado Country Club was not pleased.

Hence my final comment: "... I commend USA Swimming for having a rule of no sexual interaction between a coach and their swimmers. Let's just hope this gentleman, if guilty, has never had a record along with a missed background check. If so, it is my opinion that USA Swimming and ASCA should get spanked.

I stand by it but I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

Anonymous said...

I have been coaching for over 30 years, at levels from 5-6 yr olds thru 18 year olds. Both USA and Non-USA swim clubs. You are right when you say "Most Swim coaches are honorable....". The unfortunate thing about an incident like this (or like these)is that it reflects "across the board" in terms of the "now" of swim coaching.

My concern is that because coaches work with kids, the entire profession now will come under "abnormal" scrutiny which will ultimately end up costing coaches more money, and will "control" their behavior in ways that will detract from the healthy coach-swimmer relationships, and the healthy sharing of emotions.

For example, I have never had any un wholesome activities with any of my swimmers. However, I have often hugged my swimmers after a race to console them if they were upset or disappointed; and to celebrate with them if they had a personal best or good finish.

When teaching swimming it is often necessary to support a younger swimmer's body while assisting with arm stroke, kicks, or breathing etc. I predict this will all go away as a result of these kinds of actions by isolated coaches in very rare cases. This is lamnetable.

It is said that next to parents and school teachers, coaches have the greatest impact on young people throughout their lives. How sad that coaches will soon not be able to have "any physical contact" with their swimmers owing to abnormal incidents like this.

I believe I read in the Register article that "Sousa ADMITTED to having sexual relations with this young lady over several months."

If so, the future for him and his family is going to be bleak. Yet I have actually spoken with people who have worked with him, and have done my own google searches.

It appears that Mr. Sousa has a history of everything nice and nothing naughty! He was a "by the book" coach. There were always parents on the deck when he coached. He is reported to send girls to the restroom "2X2" to protect them. He has been a professing Christian who has been involved in his church for years.

He has been recognized for his work with the Red Cross, and his commitment to upholding very high standards for his lifeguards, and swim instructors. In other words, this appears to be a "one time" thing with a young swimmer who was perhaps infatuated with him, and a temptation to which he succumbed.

Nevertheless his future as a swim professional is over now. His business that he built with his wife and friends is pretty much history.

But still, this is an isolated incident; and should not in my opinion receive any more attention than ANY isolated incident. To do otherwise would be irresponsible reaction-ism.

Tony Austin said...

This is an isolated incident and it isn't Todd Sousa that has branded the sport unfairly. It isn't ABC News or ESPN that has branded our sport unfairly either. It is the fact that USA Swimming has poorly addressed this issue for far to long, has had a horrible response to this crisis on many levels. i.e. their CEO going on TV and was completely non-sympathetic to the victims, that he had a past history of blowing both a sexual abuse complaint sent to him by a swimmer, that the organization he runs endorsed a pedophile coach for a job despite knowing the history of the coach they recommended. That is what is killing the sport among other financial factors as well.

Point the finger at the top not the bottom for this fiasco.

If Sousa is guilty his life is going to suck forever. Perhaps the victim's life will suck forever too? (I won't suggest possible scenarios but perhaps she makes it out okay? I hope so).

As for Sousa: Yes, his family may disband, his friends may leave him, his kids too. Then there is jail, being in a registry, unemployment due to the "scarlet letter" on his chest, Who knows? I am astonished coaches can't predict the consequences of their behavior.

The only process that will rehabilitate the sport is to have stern policies that involve parents and kids, then comes reporting to the police, and then the blackballing. USA Swimming is focusing on reporting.

I commend you for coaching for so many years. There is very little money in this sport and you obviously love it and appreciate the morals and ethics therein.

As for Sousa's good deeds, Shakespeare said it best "...The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft' interred with their bones." - Julius Cesar

surfer said...

This is an outcome of a broken element in our society. It is ripe in many endeavors involving youth interacting with adults. At church, school, athletics, scouts... Why do these adults get snared?
Blacklisting those who have faulted will only momentarily relieve a symptom, it does not solve it. The predictor will continue and find new access points. Like all crime, the punishment doesn't deter the behavior, criminals do not mean to get so deep into a crime and/or fail to think that they may get caught.
As swimming has fought for more time in the spotlight, a bright light is cast upon our successes and failures. We want fame and fortune ...this is one of the price we must pay (look what stars and politicians put up with). Get use to it, it is bound to get worse.

Anonymous said...

fyi.there were many reports by parents and students to Woodbridge high school in Irvine, CA regarding Mr. Sousa's inappropriate behavior in 2001 and 2002. The school ignored the reports and look what happened?

Tony Austin said...

Can you provide exact details, a newspaper article, or a link? If not, then your comment has to be considered a random drive by allegation... I think you know where I am going with this.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - please don't suggest that ANY of the blame lies with the girl. It's a shame that your only scenario suggests that perhaps she was "infatuated" and Mr. Sousa "succumbed." He is 36, married with 2 children as I understand it. She was 15, and his student. The victim in this situation is clear. Scrutiny is part of the job when you work with children - something tells me Mr. Sousa wouldn't appreciate lax morals and insufficient oversight when it comes to his children's caretakers and mentors, and I'm POSITIVE he would not take kindly to a 36-year-old man pursuing his daughter before she is even old enough to drive.

Anonymous said...

It appears Todd is trying to reinvent himself and his school. Although Swim Venture is closed all roads (phone numbers and new web-site) are now leading to a newly formed Swim school Atlantis Aquatics. A must read

Anonymous said...

Interesting must read. Although Swim Venture has closed, it appears Todd may be conneccted with the opening of a new Swim School

Tony Austin said...

I appreciate you posting links. It's really important that this occurs so as to validate statements.